July 22, 2009

'ere, chicky chicky

You know that feeling you get (or ... plethora of feelings you get) after you've had too many lychee martinis or mango margaritas? After a decadent trip to the Bay Area and exactly four late-night chick-lit binges (plus one for the road - or, as it were, sky), I feel familiar hangover pangs and a need to plunge back into the cold, cold waters of Amy and Isabelle, which is what I left off reading before my trip.

The first night, it was Emily Giffin's Something Borrowed, because my hotel room freaked me out and I needed some distraction. I had brought my standbys, and The Woman at the Washington Zoo and A Wrinkle in Time for the plane (I find them really good for settling nerves) but neither was doing the trick for the creepy hotel room. So after I picked up dinner from a Powell Street diner, I went to the Borders at Union Square and grabbed Something Borrowed along with Chasing Harry Winston by Lauren Weisberger. (The latter actually mentions Emily Giffin's Borrowed and its follow-up, Something Blue, which is sort of neat.)

Despite two thousand and one cliches in Something Borrowed, the story did take my mind off the room. SIAS: Goody-two-shoes snakes BFF's fiance (whom everyone knows is wrong for her from page 2 on). One thing that annoys me about the few chick-lit examples I've frolicked in is that everyone has a name like Rachel, Samantha or Marnie, and all the stories take place in Manhattan, and all feature a prodigal daughter who wants her parents to leave her alone - until she is spurned by the real/corporate/chauvinistic world and goes crying to her mom. They hate their jobs, their bosses hate them, and the only way to get through each workweek is to drink too much on Friday night and/or take the jitney to the Hamptons on Saturday. Invariably, someone gets pregnant or dumped or perhaps both, and in the end, someone gets the guy (or a guy), or gets a much better job, and no one gets the swift kick in the pants they so desperately need.

I generalize. But so do they. Also, I realize that to get a broader, fairer view of this genre, I'd have to read more titles. A task which, after I finish Something Blue, Love the One You're With, and Confessions of a Shopaholic, I am unlikely to focus on.

Anyway, I didn't mean to crap all over chick-lit in general - the indulgence did save me from staring wide-eyed at the ceiling till I fell asleep, and I did go back for more at the airport bookstore. Also, I picked up Amanda Eyre Ward's Love Stories in this Town from City Lights (the closest thing to chick-lit they had was Amy Tan, and I'm positive they only carry her for her homages to the city) and read it over a tuna melt and mixed green salad on Sunday in a cafe whose name I can't remember along a street I can't remember either. I remember the stories, though. I tried to consume them in one sitting - and therein lay my mistake. Once the mini-plot to each story went down, all I was left with was the essence of sadness. Most of the stories are about loss or despair about never having had in the first place. Because of my state of mind on this trip, it was back to Emily Giffin that evening.

All told, I got to know Giffin and Weisberger (read The Devil Wears Prada in Vegas last summer, come to think), peeked at Sophie Kinsella (Confessions of a Shopaholic), and inhaled some Jane Green (Babyville). Got home to find The Reader in the mailbox, which I am excited about, and which reminds me that I should start posting chick-lit titles immediately. They seem to be snapped up really quick on PBS.

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