Sunday, January 09, 2005

More on This Whole Anti-Chick-Lit Concept

I've been thinking a lot about this "x-rated-anti-chick-lit" thing since I got that notebook promo from my UK editor. (Aside--here's my UK cover--isn't it cool? I love how they made it look like an old-fashioned notebook.)

The "promo" notebook is a spiral-bound dealie with this cover on the front. Then several pages behind it have more doodles and my author blurbs. You can see it by clicking HERE.

They say all kinds of lovely things in that notebook, from calling THE BITCH GODDESS NOTEBOOK (their title) a "devastating debut bestseller," to comparing it to some of my favorite films. One thing they say about it is that it's "x-rated-anti-chick-lit."

(Clearing throat in preparation for speech. Some would call it a rant.)

Now, first of all, let me say that I totally LOVE the way my publishers are promoting the book, both here and in the UK. And over the holidays, my British editor sent me so many cool things--and she told me that notebook's being handed out to all booksellers in the UK! And they compared the book to HEATHERS and AMERICAN BEAUTY (two of my all-time favorite movies)... And they say it's going to become a "word of mouth bestseller"... Check my vital signs, am I still breathing here?

But what do they mean, "anti-chick-lit"? And how did my book get this X rating? (well, I kinda know the answer to that one... never mind) But, ya know, if someone opens my book expecting Bridget Jones in bondage, they're gonna be disappointed.

I have to wonder how AM Homes or Mary Gaitskill would feel about being described as "X-rated-anti-chick-lit." Because I feel a lot more literary kinship with them than I do with ANY of the chick lit books.

Well, I chatted about this with a few people, and something my friend David (also a writer) said really stuck in my head. "You know, Martha... like it or not, a novel is a product. And you're a new writer, so you don't have a brand name like Philip Roth or Joyce Carol Oates. And... just like with cars... SEX SELLS."

Well, OKEY-DOKEY then. "X-rated-anti-chick-lit" it is. Hey, I'm just the author. And again, I'm totally fucking THRILLED about what they are doing for my book, both here and in the UK. They can call it anything they want!

Still, I'd like to think my book is more than just NOT something else. Way back when St. Martin's bought my book, my American editor said to me, "We could position it as the female version of FIGHT CLUB." Again--I'm totally flattered and HONORED by that comparison. But I would also like to believe I've created more than just the female version of something that someone else wrote nine years ago. Besides, there is no one in the book remotely like Tyler Durden or Jack.

Anyway, I guess we didn't go with that FIGHT CLUB for girls thing. I haven't heard anything about it since, anyway. Just as well. I'm not much of a boxer.

Here's Edmund White's blurb on my book: "A debut worthy of Joyce Carol Oates."

Now THAT'S a comparison that thrills me, because Joyce Carol Oates is my literary idol. In fact, I have a shrine to her in my house and I burn incense on it nightly while reciting bits of BECAUSE IT IS BITTER, AND BECAUSE IT IS MY HEART.

I'm only kind of kidding.