I learned about Shipley when she blogged at the Guardian about Maureen Dowd's odd report from a visit to a New York bookstore.
Last month I asked her what she was reading. Her reply:
I was recently unfortunate enough to spend six weeks without the internet (which is when I discovered that four days offline is my limit) and with very patchy TV reception, so I read twenty-four books. My favourites included About Alice, Calvin Trillin's poignant and understated tribute to his late wife and muse, and Kalisha Buckhanon's Upstate, a modern day Romeo and Juliet told in the form of letters between two teenage lovers, one of whom is in jail… yes, upstate. It's fantastic.Diane Shipley's riposte to Dowd, "In Defence of Chick Lit," opens:
Now I'm home and back online, my reading rate has slowed considerably. I'm halfway through Mommies Who Drink, in unbound proof (because it's not out in the UK yet) – an interesting way of reading a book which means you can't really turn back and check stuff, you just have to keep ploughing ahead. The book's a little disconnected but I'm enjoying it.
I've also just read the first twenty pages of a book I've had for ages: Fashion Babylon. I promised it to my friend Helen and I'm seeing her in a few weeks so want to finish it soon! Already I can tell it's a deliciously gossipy book, a great read – the fun will be trying to guess which designer and model the anecdotes are about, as everything in the book really happened, but the main players have been disguised…. Helen's a fashion expert so hopefully she can fill me in!
Finally, and God knows when I'll have chance to read it (but I must) I've just bought a second-hand copy of Michel Faber's The Crimson Petal and the White, because for years everyone's been saying how great it is. At 800 plus pages, I'm not quite sure when I and my toppling pile of books for review will fit it in … hopefully sometime this year!
For a genre that's supposedly just about sex, shoes and shopping (more on that misconception later), chick lit certainly stirs up controversy. Maureen Dowd recently realised it's not 1994 and expressed shock at the number of books in the shops with pink covers - pink signifying literary unworthiness, clearly.
A follow-up article supplied proof to back up her claim "that good chick lit was not the contradiction in terms that some people think."