Monday, December 18, 2006

Mom lit, anyone?

There's an article up at the nyt on the latest trend (meaning it's probably already over), mom lit. Basically, chick lit authors and readers are now having babies. I think this mania for labelling books chick lit has gone too far. I've read a couple of "chick lit"-y titles and been put off by others because they seemed to be chick lit.

The mom-centricity of some parts of our culture seem to be almost purely market-driven and I think that's the case here. But as a mom, I am interested in some of those stories that have some mothering angle. But I'm also interested in fast-paced murder mysteries and thrillers, though I hope to have nothing in common with those protagonists anytime soon.

But with this mom lit trend, I'm thinking again about how that affects or excludes black authors and readers. For instance I really enjoyed Jennifer Weiner's Little Earthquakes (she's quoted in the nyt article and has commented on it in her blog), both because I recognized many of the challenges the mothers faced and because it seemed more realistic to me since it wasn't an all-white cast of characters. (Yes, the black mother is married to a professional athlete - which I could make a case for as a stereotypical way to insert a black mother. But she wasn't the maid, or the personal assistant, or a recipient of the white character's charity). I wonder if there are black authors whose books would easily fit within the mom lit category but aren't being placed there and who may be missing readers because they've been lumped into a racial niche.

Can you think of any black authors who have written mom lit (or have something coming out?) Let me know, I'd like to check them out.

Another thing the article touches on is the over-the-top wealth of some of the characters in these novels. Yet I think it is entirely possible to have an engaging novel about women/people/mothers who are not obscenely wealthy. It might even be a. better. book.

Jump at the Sun
I meant to comment on Kim McLarin's book below - but, I got a little distracted. Anyway, I recommend it. It's interesting that I was reading it around the time that Bebe Moore Campbell passed away. McLarin's novels have more depth than much of what is pushed onto the African American shelves. Jump at the Sun is no exception. I was impressed with the way she weaved one mother's story as really a part of her family's maternal history and made all the women sympathetic to some degree (for awhile anyway). I am reading a lot of really light fiction now and McLarin's novel is not light - it pushed me to think and gave me characters too complex for me to easily dismiss or embrace. It also left things kind of unsettled and it was good to read something that was more realistic, with a story that isn't all tied up at the end.

A reading Dec. 22 in Baltimore:
We have reached the last stop on the 2006 tour of Growing Up Girl: An Anthology of Voices from Marginalized Spaces.Red Emma's Books will host the contributors on Friday, December 22, 2006 at 6:30pm. If you haven't had a chance to attend a reading this is a great way to end the year (and pick up some last minute autographed Christmas presents). Spread the word! Also keep an eye out for the new 2007 tour schedule in a couple weeks.Red Emma's Books Reading and Book SigningFriday, December 22, 2006800 St. Paul Street Baltimore, MD6:30pm Michelle national resource for poets/writersand the folks who love us!

I just missed the Growing Up Girl event at Charis in Atlanta. Hopefully some of the authors will make a swing near me in 2007.

Review surfing:
SF Chronicle on Amiri Baraka's short story collection, Tales of the Out & the Gone.

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