The inimitable Jane Smiley reviewed chick-lit doyenne Jennifer Weiner's new novel, Some Girls for the Philadelphia Inquirer over the weekend, and she wonders why the cover is so goddamn pink. "The pinkness of the novel implies to me that Weiner herself has given up seeking a wider audience, and so given up developing her fictional premises from lots of different perspectives," writes Smiley. Smiley believes that "American fiction has split again, into the boys' team and the girls' team. Certain Girls demonstrates that this works to impoverish both sides." (USA Today notes that the male characters in Certain Girls, "lack substance and exist only as foils for the women.")
While any novel is better when it considers the perspectives of both men and women, how many examples of classic literature have the reverse problem — that the female characters lack substance and exist only as foils for the men? Any Hemingway novel suffers from this malady; Philip Roth's female characters are a joke and even the more modern Romeos of literary wunderkinds like Ben Kunkel have trouble creating fictional women with any staying power. And yet these novels still manage to get to the pinnacle of the literary pantheon, while any female writer who writes mostly about women and their issues is relegated to the pink ghetto with a fuschia cover and a pair of heels.
And anyway, it's a widely accepted fact that men don't buy books in the first place. Are women more likely to buy something because it's pink? I want to believe that this is untrue, but then again Confessions of a Shopaholic, that carnation-hued mess, was purchased by millions so what do I know?