Dick Lit

I actually believed I’d made up the literary descriptor “Dick Lit” but a quick Google proved me behind the curve. But, whatever, I love it, because I’ve become so pissed with the “Chick Lit” thing. I mean, what happened to “Romance Novel?” Allison Pearson’s tremendous “I Don’t Know How She Does It.” was a star in the Chick Lit category, and now, big sigh, is a Major Motion Picture starring Ms. Parker. (Why couldn’t it have been set in its original London setting with a British cast?) Point is: “I Don’t Know How She Does It” had, um, literary merit.

“I Don’t Know How She Does It” is no Sophie Kinsella meringue about shopping. It’s no bodice ripper –it’s a witty straight-up novel about being a modern professional and mother.  Sorta like the hero of Joseph O’Neill’s hero in my fave literary novel of the last ten years: “Netherland.”

OK. I was going to say “Don’t get me started,” but my foot is hard on the gas pedal. My husband has admitted that he’s never read Jane Austen, George Eliot or Virginia Wolff. WTF? Why did I have to sit through endless paralyzing hours of Melville, Faulkner And Henry James in college? I mean not a single novel by a woman author?

Now, there are Good Dicks — Balzac and Trollope, for two — who cared about what women thought and felt. But why the heck is “Moby Dick” still required reading and “Sense and Sensibility” isn’t? I’m sorry if I’m sounding like a hairy-legged feminist in a Womyn’s Commune in the ’70s (not that there’s anything wrong with that!) and I’ll return to the fascinating topic of Dick Lit.

(BTW, Lou adores Donna Leon, Louise Penney, Tess Gerritsen and Agatha Christie. He probably checks out more books from the Libe by women than by men.)

Dick Lit can be fabulous, as long as it’s  being written by say, Carl Hiassen, Elmore Leonard, and BOOK RECOMMENDATION OF THE WEEK: George Pelecanos’s The Cut. 

Pick it up and wave bye-bye to your day –and night. I’ve read all three of George’s previous novels with admiration and the feeling that there was a DC film over my body and mind that would never shower off. I’m haunted and coated by “The Cut” but the  new protagonist Spero gives me that rarest quality of a Pelcanos novel: hope. I’ll be waiting to take you out for a beer, Speros.

Any Dick Lit faves? Lemme know.

Read it.



Filed under A Couple of Bucks, Books, Into the Mystic, Library Card

5 responses to “Dick Lit

  1. Are you speaking in absolutes—author or protagonist? Cause WINTER’S BONE by Daniel Woodrell has the best shero in a coon’s age. And his words are MAGIC. I have more, of all vice-versity.

  2. Bev

    Sorry I took the Canadian Female Writers course..didn’t see Dick Lit listed.

  3. Rachel: all suggestions welcome! Bev, I was at McGill before there were classes about Canadian (or any) Female Writers. It was Dick Lit all the way.

  4. SourGrapes

    Is Henry Miller Dick Lit?

    Love the term! 🙂

    I am glad that my guy friends actually read Jane Austen and the Bronte Sisters in college. There was a big Dickinson (not Dick Lit) push in my college as well. But in high school? Next to no female authors. I can remember reading Poe, Twain, Steinbeck, Melville, James, Hemingway, Whitman…ok, we did read The Lottery by Shirley Jackson and The Yellow Wallpaper by Charlotte Perkins Gilman…but other than that, I can’t remember in depth study of many women authors until I got to college. I did study Sylvia Plath in a creative writing group in high school but that wasn’t a class. Sigh. Wow, I feel sort of sad now that women are still not fully represented as writers taught in classes to our kids. Ugh.

    To me a class in Dick Lit would include Charles Bukowski and Harry Crews, plus Henry Miller who I mentioned earlier. Oh and Chuck Palahniuk. Men, men, men, men, manly men, men, men, men, men. I would say Stieg Larsson but maybe that is only because his work comes off a bit misogynistic.

  5. Kim Shook

    I’m not much of a fan of the phrase “Chic Lit” – or many examples of it either. BUT – I have to admit that at the library, I tend to scan the authors’ names and I automatically gravitate towards the Agathas, the Ruths and the Dorothys (it took me forever to figure out that Ngaio was a girl!). The only hard boiled things I care for are eggs.

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