When I was a teenager I used to equate chick lit fiction to silly Mills & Boons romances. In a M&B romance, everything from how the girl would blush at a few words and swoon at a touch to how the guy would always overpower the girl either through his gregarious personality or through those dark, brooding i-know-you-will-come-to-me looks was a done-to-death stereotype. Either one of them had to be more privileged or more prejudiced than the other.
I am highly amused, every time I encounter middle-aged women, in the neighborhood library, furtively hiding a thin M&B novella amidst a stack of Better Homes and Good Housekeeping magazines, a guilty yet eager-to-read look resplendent on their faces. One could only wonder the charm these novels brought to these women’s lives. Did they still chase dreams of a man or a romance which would forever be out of their reach? A romance which they could only relive through a page-turner of a book, which is aimed at raising the adrenaline and pulse with each seductive maneuver?
In school, all the girly girls used to literally pine for the next issue of a Sweet Valley to come along. The corridors were witness to many a catfight regarding “who would borrow the book next” from those who were lucky enough to get their hands on the fresh lot. Sweet Valleys fed teenage girls a steady diet of prom nights, prom queens and prom kings, date nights, curfews broken and hemlines shortened, stolen kisses in the school corridors, sly glances exchanged in the chemistry lab, hands held under the desk during math class, and so on. Break-ups resulting in broken teenage hearts. Purple rage out of pink fluff. And then everything eventually returning back to normal after one good deed or the dawn of realization breaking. The guy realizing that shiny and sleek Veronica slung on his arm, would soon induce snores and sores of the worst kind. Freckled and cute Betty would any day bring in more sense and sensibility.
But with the passage of rites into adulthood and its many trials and tribulations, I would say, my outlook on chick lit fiction has changed. I no longer view it as something to be devoured with lots of comfort food by your side (read wine for some and hot chocolate for others). It’s not something which will put me to sleep, with me thinking that probably there are girls out there facing worse relationship issues and have less effective defensive mechanisms installed to cope with them.
While reading a Marian Keyes out-and-out chick lit fiction, borrowed from that very same neighborhood library, I realized that chick lit fiction probably lends you freedom of psychological space where you can thrash out the banal questions life and relationships throw at you.
Some deal with existentialism by getting drunk, some by going on the rebound, some by day-dreaming, some by retail therapy, and then there are some who muse, ponder, and write. I fall in the last category. And yes ok, in the second last category too.
Chick lit fiction allows you to see the humourous side of a situation that spiralled out of control long before and you never even realized when you lost control. It allows you to resurface from a muck of curses hurled at yourself for all the hamartia and tragic flaws that choke your arteries and nervous system. Its cathartic in more ways than one.
It allows you to follow those bubbles of oxygen that are symbolic of you still breathing when you are deep, deep underwater. It tells you that you may be looking for a definition of love out there in the big, bad world…a definition which immediately suits you and defines the essence of who you are…but in actuality that love is something which you can only find within yourself. If you search desperately for it in somebody else, you will always end up hitting an impenetrable wall. A wall built of questions which have no answers. You see…the construction of the wall does not support that 🙂 You have to let go of this eternal search for love and peace outside yourself and learn to find it within yourself. The day you learn to do that…the clouds will part and there will be a downpour like never before.
Have I waxed myself eloquent over this subject? I sincerely hope not.
I will not fall into the trap and cliche of being called a “feminist” if I say, chick lit fiction is liberating in a way (I can get maligned by other feminists for saying so) but chick lit fiction sure does make you feel a tad bit lighter, at the end of a heavy bout of everything-which-should-never-have-happened-or-gone-wrong.