Wednesday, October 25, 2006

Eleven down

I find chick dick fiction a satisfying, if sometimes fleeting, form of therapy. Some reach for chocolate, I reach for a Janet Evanovich novel. This evening I made it through all of Evanovich’s Eleven On Top. No need to reiterate how much I enjoy my research, and because the grad student in me doesn’t always know how to stop, was thinking the entire time of why I keep coming back to these novels (I'm not the only one pondering this question; hordes of intrigued academics aside, check out this article in the McGill Tribune). While I could hypothesize for ages (or write a dissertation on it, even), some of it is that unlike many other serial writers, Evanovich manages to hang onto the stuff that keeps chick dick fiction interesting, for me at least: the mystery. It never takes a backseat to the angst of lust and life, and their intrusions often ring true for me, such as the momentary and consuming diversions of sugary treats, pretty shoes, or giving in to a sexy hand reaching up your shirt even when you know it’s going to lead to a capital-R Regret. Reading a lot of formula fiction, as I do, things start to jump out at you, this time the phrases “he cut his eyes to the man standing…” and “he angled out of the car.” These expressions stay vivid for me precisely because of their overuse – they’ve become a cliché of pump-it-out-fast writing and in other circumstances tend to grate. But here they remind me of what these kinds of novels are trying to do – straddle competing generic worlds, get the mass-market fiction audience, convey an image with the efficiently of the familiar. I feel better, or at least distracted, now. And I can fall asleep without wondering whodunit.


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