Wednesday, July 18, 2007

Leave the Mum Lit writers alone please...

My friend and colleague Erin recently showed me an article from a national paper complaining about the current glut of ‘Mum Lit’ hitting the shelves in Ireland.
Being part of that glut I felt somewhat personally aggrieved. It seems the writer in question thinks it’s all a bit too formulaic and boring.
And it doesn’t really offer women any real sustenance in terms of good reading.
And besides, it’s all done before. Sure in Marian Keyes’ first novel ‘Watermelon’ the main character has a baby and sure isn’t that book just gas... (And it is, in case you wondered... I admit it's bloody brilliant).
But the fact is that there are very few original stories still out there - but there are original ways to tell them. That’s what every writer, from Queen Marian to yours truly tries to achieve each time we sit down and batter out something on our laptops.
And what we are all (well perhaps not Marian as she is at the tippity top of her game) trying to do is be accepted as writers, as valid contributors to society. We are trying to get a foothold in a competitive and harsh business. I think that is pretty damn admirable.
What said writer was doing was throwing the same old well rehearsed criticisms at Mum Lit as have been traditionally and predictably thrown at Chick Lit and the most frustrating thing about the whole damned thing is that said writer is a woman (and, I believe, a mother to boot).
I could wax lyrical about why this makes me angry, but since this writer clearly thinks Marian Keyes is the better woman (and hell, so do I), I’ll leave it to her to make my point.

“I feel a rant coming on. Just sick – BORED, BORED, BORED – mes amies, of being attacked for being a pink fluffy writer by a load of fuckheads with a misogynistic agenda, who have never read my books or the great reviews they get. ... I have nothing but contempt for those men and sometimes women (I call them collaborators) who write articles undermining what women like and enjoy, intending to unsettle women enough that they won’t ask for things. Like equal pay. And decent child-care. And money for refuges for victims of domestic violence. And an end to joke sentences for convicted rapists. I could go on… but mes amies, I’m so tremendously bored of it.
(And can I also say, because if I don’t, the fuckheads will, that I don’t expect everyone to like my books. I am simply asking for 2 things. 1) Don’t judge my books if you haven’t read them. 2) Leave women alone. We don’t try to make you feel ashamed for the things you like, like Kate Moss’s arse and expensive hifi’s. Please return the favour.)”


Chick said...

Hear hear, Claire (and Marian).

Well said!


Karina said...

Are you talking about Anne-Marie Scanlan's piece in last Sunday's Indo? Don't you know that she is Marian Keyes' vbf????? Might explain why she was bigging her up so much!
I wouldn't worry about it - everyone has their own agenda at the end of the day. Anyway, although she made it badly, she DOES have a point, there IS nothing original about Mum-lit, nothing except the label anyway.

Claire said...

I beg to differ, as it happens.
I think there is a lot original about so-called Mum Lit.
As with every genre though there is good mum lit and sucky mum lit.

At the end of the day Mum Lit now refers to every book which has an MC who is a mum.
And we all know that being a mum does not define your entire being...
People like Anne-Marie should read a little deeper. I for one can suggest a pretty good read. ;)

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