Why Do ChickLit Writers Sell Out?

objectsCoverI just finished a novel by Jill Smolinski entitled “Objects of My Affection.”  Looking at her other works and the blurbs on the back of this and other novels, I would assume she is firmly categorized in the “chic-lit” genre.  Too bad.  First of all, I detest what has come to be called chic-lit, because it undoubtedly follows this formula:  emotional basket case of a heroine down on her luck and recently dumped by a man, surrounded by snarky and shallow fellow female characters mistakenly called friends, all seemingly concerned with their next hook-up despite the world falling apart around them, and gratuitous references to certain name recognition shoes or long guilt trips over amounts of food consumed.  Who cares?  Obviously someone, because it sells.  This novel and this writer have great potential.  The story concerns a down-on-her luck gal, Lucy Bloom, who has been recently dumped by long-term live-in, has sold her home to finance her son’s drug rehab treatment, and has taken, in desperation, a job to clean out the home of a reclusive and crazy hoarder.  The book deals with a lot of interesting issues surrounding the meaning of possessions, the ability to let go, personal sacrifice for others… and author Jill Smolinski has some talent to bring to bear and carry the reader along on this crazy tale.  Most notably, she  believably crafts the persona of Marva Meier Rios, an eccentric artist has-been who displays more personality than all the other characters combined. Smolinski’s  has the skill to tell her tale in a unique voice which is cheeky, breezy, and fun, but  sadly, she sells out by including insipid sexy scenes with a hot moving man (really? the character is consumed with what she is wearing in preparation for boinking some guy she hardly knows when she is essentially homeless and her son is flunking out of rehab?), and portrays her heroine, Lucy, as a helpless ditz all too often.  I think Smolinski has sold herself short as a writer.  She could produce a novel that deals with serious issues, but still maintain her fun and trendy tone, without having to resort to the commercial fiction chic-lit tropes. I’m just sayin’.

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