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Mommy, am I cult?

A former literary snob making her way back to commercial reads.

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The Silver Linings Playbook
Matthew Quick
You Should Pity Us Instead
Amy Gustine

There Are No Men

There Are No Men - Carol Maloney Scott Can you be a feminist and still enjoy chick-lit?

My answer is... maybe.

Chick lit surely has some elements that will make empowered girls cringe, but for fully understanding we have to remember: chick-lits are not prescriptive. They are not a recipe of how women (or romance) should be. On the contrary, they are a mixture of scapism and descriptiveness, and there must be a little "wrongdoing" so characters can screw up, we can laugh of them and in the end lessons can be learned.

Here are some things that illustrate it:

Women are trained since birth to please others. So, of course, the protagonist of a chick-lit novel will be neurotic regarding other people's opinion.
The protagonist in this book does it all the time. And, worse, let others' opinions govern her life.

In "There are no men", we see the story of a late-30s divorcée who did a histerectomy (extraction of her uterus), so she can't have kids.
Even though she really wants to be a mother, she...
a) won't addopt because men usually only want that if they are the infertile ones;
b) won't marry someone with kids because "everyone hates stepmothers";
The only acceptable reason for me is her resistance to open adoption because that's a discomfort that is her own. Still doesn't fully explain why she's not into "closed adoption".

Redeeming fact #1. That's because she was raised by a slightly neurotic mother, and we feminists know how sexist neurotic education have the power to make us condition our goals to men's goals.

Women are trained to judge others (especially other women) using the most petty, ridiculous, irrelevant criteria. So does the protagonist in this book.

She specifically says that about women who don't wear high heels: "I don't know where these women come from." Like women who don't wear heels are some sort of incomprehensible aliens.

Redeeming fact #2. She falls on her lawn holding a letter mail box (I swear, this author is creative in coming up with embarrassing situations).
In front of a super cute guy.
So take that.


Redeeming fact #3. She gets called about her narrow-mindedness in a few occasions during the book. So take that again.

Redeeming fact #4: Like anyone with a half functioning brain, she hates 50 shades of grey. (BY THE WAY, LET ME SAY if you are writing a romance and say shit about 50 shades, it means YOU GOT BALLS.)

So, do I like the protagonist of this book? Depends. It takes some time to understand where she comes from. Until then, I found her a little judgmental. (Even if the judgement was witty, funny and made me laugh.) This could be helped with a little extra structuring.

For example, we start with Claire (the protagonist) in a dinner with a internet date. The guy turns up to be old, tacky and hairless. But, as Claire kept on judging this old guy in her mind, I only felt sorry for him. If we had a prologue when we see Claire being abandoned by her ex-husband without a uterus in her belly, I would sympathize with her to the point that it doesn't matter if she was mocking of a sweet 5 year old with Down Syndrom, I'd be with her for whatever what's worth.
Also, Claire is a little too passive. In order to make a hero likable, we have to make her DO something. That's why we love Bridget Jones so much. She is silly, and she had her depressive moments, but she takes her destiny in her hands. She changed her job, she told the groper old guy to go screw himself (yeah, maybe i'm confusing book with movie), but the point is: she doesn't just fluctuates through life letting other people govern her life. I missed some of this in Claire.

I could see this book turned into a romantic comedy, but as said I think it would take some adjustment.

Now, did I liked the book? Sure!

I read the first half in one day. It is riveting, and even if loses some steam by the end (it gets a little predictable), you sure are able to have a lot of fun with the quirkiness and the ability to capture the humor of day-by-day situations. (And this is another redeeming trait that belongs not only to the book... but to the entire genre.)