Rants and Raves, and News on the Chat

The chat was really fun! Although the chatsite (hosted by Chatzy) was a little wonky…it’s October so we must blame it on goblins. Thanks to everyone who was there!

Here’s what I revealed in the chat: The character of Oliver in the Blue Bloods series is based on my best friend from college (who was cute and sweet and I had a total crush on him). The question was, is anyone in your books based on real people? Oliver is the only one. Everyone else is completely made up, although I like to think they have a part of me in each of them…Oh, wait…In the Au Pairs, Ryan Perry is based on the two cutest guys I know in New York, both of whom are totally hot and sweet in a different way, with a sprinkling of my husband (who it goes without saying, is the hottest and sweetest guy of all of course) thrown in there as well.

Yesterday Mike and I saw The Departed, which was excellent. We haven’t seen such a great movie in years – action-packed and REALLY funny, in a totally unexpected way. We were very happy to see the screenwriter credit–our friend William Monahan wrote it! Bill was a writer for the New York Press during the same time I was writing for them, and we met him about a handful of times, usually at one of the bacchanalian Christmas or summer parties. A really cool, funny guy. One of our favorite writers, deadpan, witty, and totally real. (One of his lines that we always repeat to each other is: “Supreme Dictator of Chad sunglasses” to describe a certain kind of aviator. Can’t you SEE it? And how funny is that?) So it was not a surprise that he wrote that movie, as it had his signature humor all over it. What’s the opposite of schadenfreude? That’s what we were feeling–a happy glow knowing good things were coming to someone who so deserved it.

I also wanted to blog about two books that I recently finished: Julie Powell’s Julie and Julia, and Andrea Lee’s Lost Hearts in Italy. Julie and Julia was AMAZING. It was so raw, earthy and funny and touching. I was crying by the end–it’s such a great memoir of what it’s like to be poor and struggling and aspirational in New York…I so remember what living in a shitty apartment was like. There was the one in the West Village, that leaked from four different places in the ceiling, so we would have all these pots and pans all over the place to catch the dripping water, which we HOPED was from the clean pipes. Then there was the one on the Upper West Side where the entire ceiling in the living room and the bedroom caved in–at different times, and fortunately, not when we were there. And yet I lived in these apartments for YEARS–they were both rent-stabilized, so my rent was very reasonable compared to my friends who were paying market rates.

Lost Hearts in Italy was great too, but for a totally different reason–all about living in Rome, and has all these awesome details about ex-pat living… I like Andrea Lee’s writing a lot, mostly because her heroines are these totally sophisticated and fabulous women of color or mixed race. Everyone is always either half-Swiss and half-Vietnamese or from a prominent black Philadelphia mainline family, and lives in Hong Kong or London or Geneva. Droool…

Anyway, I was at Target today, and I happened upon that book “This is Not Chick Lit” and I was about to put it in my cart until I started reading Elizabeth Merrick’s introduction. And her introduction TURNED ME OFF SO MUCH that I got so annoyed and put the book down. I think all that sniping over chick lit is so silly, and I like authors in both anthologies “This is Chick Lit” and “This is Not Chick Lit”, and I had been meaning to buy the “This is Not” book for a while.

But then I read her intro, about how chicklit is like, responsible for the LACK of books from “real” women writers (or whatever she calls the “literary” writers) in this screechy, harsh, almost HYSTERICAL tone, and I just got mad. She’s not getting my eight bucks, sorry. I buy, read and enjoy a lot of literary fiction, and I am called a chicklit writer, and I don’t mind it. But I’m not going to have someone insult me to my face or tell me that my books are the reason some “real” writers are not getting published. Isn’t “literary” just another genre? The sad-everyone-dies-unhappy-ending genre? I mean, c’mon.

And is Andrea Lee a literary writer because she writes for the New Yorker? Yes, right? And Julie Powell was “just” a blogger. But Julie Powell I thought was the stronger writer…her book was a lot more real and tough and not pretentious in the least. Whereas Lost Hearts in Italy has a frigging billionaire in it, for goddsakes. The staple of the bodice-ripper fiction. Just with better adjectives and better observations, maybe. So which one is chicklit? I don’t mean to bash Andrea Lee at all, I thoroughly enjoyed her book and want to go buy her backlist now. This is why all this Chick Lit vs. Non Chicklit shit is so annoying… Good writing is good writing, whatever genre it is. And it’s all genre in my humble opinion.

And why put down a type of book that people like to read?? Don’t they know that women who read chick lit also read lit lit or whatever they want to call those books that don’t have pink covers? Readers are omnivorous types, and to assume otherwise is pretty narrow-minded if you ask me. I read everything: chick, literary, mystery, sci-fi, memoirs, YA, etc. I’m gazing at my shelves and I see Harry Potter, Three Junes, Confessions of a Not It Girl, The Acid House, Stephen King’s On Writing, The Complete Letters of Oscar Wilde…

Well, that’s enough of a rant for today.