Readers’ Panel: Can men write chick lit?
By Jade Craddock
In the fourth of our Readers’ Panels, we ask our ten readers aged between 20 and 55 can men write chick lit and romance? ♥
Fiona, England: Not read any by men so I reserve judgment at this time.
Kat, Scotland: Yes I believe chick lit can be written to a high standard from a male’s point of view. I have thoroughly enjoyed various books by male authors. My favourites including Mike Gayle & Matt Dunn and I look forward to their new releases.
Lee-ann, Australia: My initial thought to this question was an emphatic no. Then, I remembered I’m a feminist who believes the advertising campaign of ‘girls can do anything’. As such, I think it’s possible for a woman to write any genre, including those traditionally written by men, including thrillers, crime, and horror. Would it not then be hypocritical of me to then jump up and down and say it’s impossible for men to write in a genre traditionally for female writers? I assume I haven’t read any chick lit written by a man. These days of social media it’s difficult for an author to keep their identity anonymous. So, I have to believe all the female writers are the gender they say they are, but there always is that possibility, however small, that one of them is only a front for the ‘real’ writer, a male. (A male writer having a female friend take credit for his work is such a chick lit scenario!) The answer to this question also depends on your interpretation of chick lit. There is no fast or firm rule that says a chick lit book must be written in the heroine’s point of view. Is Nick Hornby a chick lit writer? His books contain a lot of the elements we find in traditional chick lit. And what about chick flicks? One would have to agree that if a chick flick screenplay was novelised, they would become chick lit. And many of these movies have been written by men. Richard Curtis springs instantly to my mind.
Kevin, Malaysia: Definitely! I know a guy who writes a really impressive debut novel last year. Can you guess who he is? None other than Nic Tatano! He wrote one of my favourite debuts last year called Wing Girl. It was such a fabulously written novel – I loved it!
Nicole, Australia: I think men can write chick lit but I’ve yet to find any that do it successfully! Usually the way they write sex is a big turn off for me because it’s not written like a female would describe it.
Trish, Ireland: When I looked at this question I realised that I’d never actually read any romance (in popular contemporary fiction) written by a man. I assumed they *could* because men have written romantic comedy for film and television for decades but I wasn’t aware of ever seeing any blokes names on any chick lit covers. The elephant in the room here is Nicholas Sparks. While I’ve said before that I don’t consider what he writes to be chick lit according to my criteria, he is usually classed as a chick lit/romance writer and is spectacularly successful. If it was up to me I’d lump him in with Jodi Picoult to a category called Issue-based Melodrama (bleurgh!) but sadly these days people seem to think that that’s what chick lit is or should be. It breaks my heart. That I can think of there’s actually only two books I’ve read that are written by men and could be classed as chick lit or rom-com. The first is The Rosie Project by Graham Simsion and the second is A Day At The Office by Matt Dunn. I bought The Rosie Project not really thinking of it in terms of romance but as a straightforward comic novel. When I read it though I realised it worked very well as a romantic comedy and definitely belonged in the chick lit universe. Most of its Amazon reviews refer to it as chick lit too I noticed. The treatment of online and speed dating was pure chick lit staple, it was funny, romantic and touching and had a hero you couldn’t help loving. When I finished it I classified it as one of the best chick lit books I’d read in a long time. I bought the Matt Dunn book A Day At The Office specifically as research for this panel and really enjoyed it. There was nothing about it that really set it apart from chick lit written by women. I thought there might be less neuroses on show but there was as much if not more. It was refreshing that the men were written as having as many insecurities and romantic longings as the women in the story. One of the things I really liked in it were the blokes talking to each other. This is always well done in films and TV sitcoms (Friends & HIMYM stand out here) and this book made me wish there was a bit more of it in chick lit. There was something subtly different about it that I can’t really define – the romance was maybe a little more understated, there was iPhone love (the one great love in all men’s lives) and each time a problem arose the blokes just solved it. Bloke A throws his back out. Bloke B frogmarches him over to Chinatown for a massage. I liked the difference. At the same time if I was handed the book as written by M Dunn in a blind trial I don’t think it would have leaped out at me that it was written by a man. So yes, I think men can write romance and chicklit and I rather wish they did it more often.
Katrina, Scotland: Seriously… How can men write chick lit?! I know there are successful male authors writing under female names but they write family saga type novels for older readers (in my opinion!)
Natalie, UK: Of course. To be honest I adore reading chick lit from a male perspective. You get to see the caring, romantic side of the other sex. Three authors that come straight to mind for this are Mike Gayle, Matt Dunn, and Neal Doran.
Phoebe, USA: Heck, yes! I’m talking to YOU, Nick Hornby!
Chanpreet, USA: Men can write chick lit/romance. I think it just came out recently that a best-selling prolific author of women’s romance was actually a 90-year-old man using a pseudonym. Men are capable of feeling all the emotions we do and also have imaginations so why can’t they write romance/chick lit? I will admit to not having read many written by men. I have noticed when they give out awards for worst sex in a book, it’s most often won by men who wrote literature.
Anyone who would like to be involved in future readers’ panels can email firstname.lastname@example.org.