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This Is Not Chick Lit: Original Stories by America's Best Women Writers

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3.52 of 5 stars 3.52  ·  rating details  ·  712 ratings  ·  145 reviews
A provocative compilation of short fiction by some of America's leading female authors features original stories by Francine Prose, Curtis Sittenfeld, Jennifer Eagan, Aimee Bender, and other established writers, as well as works from such up-and-coming ta..Title: .This Is Not Chick Lit..Author: .Merrick, Elizabeth (EDT)..Publisher: .Random House Inc..Publication Date: .200 ...more
Paperback, 336 pages
Published August 1st 2006 by Random House Trade Paperbacks (first published 2006)
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Nine Stories by J.D. SalingerThe Complete Stories and Poems by Edgar Allan PoeA Good Man is Hard to Find and Other Stories by Flannery O'ConnorDubliners by James JoyceThe Martian Chronicles by Ray Bradbury
Collections of Short Stories
308th out of 1,884 books — 1,420 voters
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99th out of 510 books — 558 voters


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Community Reviews

(showing 1-30 of 1,398)
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Caitlin Constantine
The short story is such a terribly underrated literary form. I always hear that publishers are reluctant to put out books of short stories, which I just don't understand. If people are truly as plagued with short attention spans as everyone says they are, then short stories would be the perfect way to deliver storytelling to more people. When done skillfully, you get all the benefits of the novel, but in 15- and 30-minute chunks.

I very much enjoyed this collection of short stories, even though
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Summer
Admittedly, I picked this up because of my hatred for the titular subgenre - a horrible plot structure wherin skinny, whiny WASPs spend more on shoes than the GDP of several developing countries (what the hell is a strappy Manolo?). And it's especially disheartening to see huge, pink displays of the stuff in bookstores, especially when women authors are turning out the same volume of work as male authors, but getting overwhelmingly overlooked in criticism and awards (See Ursula K. LeGuin's excel ...more
Emily
This book was for book group. Prior to reading its introduction I wasn't aware that the genre of "chick lit" even existed. Just totally off my radar, really. Anyhow, so the woman who collected these short stories wanted to spotlight talented female writers who aren't getting a lot of attention because 'chick lit' is drowning them out. She wanted to show the world there are American women writing poignant, meaningful literature, not just beach reads or trashy, formulaic stories. Well, nice idea e ...more
Rachel
This is a quirky little collection that is sometimes hit or miss for me. I definitely like the idea of highlighting female authors who write about more than women who shop and man-hunt in "the big city." I should also give props for the unique ways of storytelling, though sometimes the exposition lost me. We have stories that are written in bits and pieces of (fictional) historical records, stories written in second person, stories that re-tell Joan of Arc as if a modern day documentary crew was ...more
Danielle
I read this off an on, picking it up and going through a story or two when I had a few spare moments. While I understand that these are some of the most celebrated contemporary female authors, not all the stories were as impressive or thought-provoking as others. Those that stood out as above average were The Thing Around Your Neck, The Seventy-two-Ounce Steak Challenge, The Matthew Effect and Meaning of Ends. The others seemed a bit more obvious to me, and these I found a bit more stimulating a ...more
Nic
My friend Don made me a present of this book a few years ago, but recently picked it up again. The stories are just excellent. Particularly "Selling the General." Very vivid and suspenseful with strong characterization. "Gabe" is one I often use in class that gets a very strong reaction. It has a strong voice, humor, pathos and two unforgettable characters. Like all collections, not every story hits one out of the park, but this group is solid. And I love the cover!
Sara
Oct 20, 2014 Sara rated it 3 of 5 stars
Recommends it for: Readers of chick lit with a sense of humor about their genre choice
Editor Elizabeth Merrick defines chick lit as follows:

Chick lit is a genre, like the thriller, or the sci-fi novel, or the fantasy epic. Its form and content are, more or less, formulaic: white girl in the big city searches for Prince Charming, all the while shopping, alternately cheating on or adhering to her diet, dodging her boss, and enjoying the occasional teary-eyed lunch with her token Sassy Gay Friend. Chick lit is the daughter of the romance novel and the step-sister to the fashion maga
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Melissa
Picked this one up at the library's used book sale and flew through it. I found the title somewhat misleading, as the collection of short stories touts itself as not being anything like what is considered "chick lit," yet most of the stories dealt with love and relationships.

Still, these stories wove a tapestry of fascinating female characters - perplexing, complicated, and not one that could be mistaken as "America's Sweetheart." The story Two Days by Aimee Bender was short but the dialogue wa
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Kelly Woodward
A diverse collection from some incredibly strong writers. Yes, they all happen to be women, and I understand that that's the point of this collection, but I don't care about their genders as much as I care about the sheer talent contained in this book.

This is one of the best collections I’ve read recently, right up there with The Best American Short Stories 2012 and Nathan Englander’s What We Talk About When We Talk About Anne Frank. “Selling the General” was a re-read for me; I first encounter
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Courtney
The premise of this book - that chick lit is inferior and limiting and needs to be rebelled against - ticked me off so much that I had a hard time getting over the title and actually reading the stories. Genre fiction can be fun, reading is good, literary snobbishness annoys me.

When I finally got over my aversion to the cover, however, I found a strong collection of short stories inside. Most of the literary short stories I come across these days are boring tales of middle-aged people with anhed
...more
Jennie
I say this every time I write about an anthology, but again, some stories are better than others. I often have a hard time with short stories in general--I am a person who is slow to adapt, and I often feel that by the time I am starting to get used to a story and the characters and its cadence and purpose and all of that, it's over, and I'm not left with enough data to make a sound judgment about it. I found some of the stories to be incomprehensible or difficult to enjoy. There are, however, l ...more
Danica
Note to self: if you're feeling disillusioned by modern fiction, don't, for the love of god, go flouncing on down to the library to check out even more modern fiction to read.

This book makes me despair: this is the best that the ladywriters of America have to offer? It's sad, but these stories feel and read lifelessly -- as if animated by a special kind of vegetable consciousness. To judge by the proferred stories, there is not a budding Toni Morrison, Marilynne Robinson, Dorothy Parker, or Joy
...more
ambimb
Nov 23, 2008 ambimb rated it 3 of 5 stars
Recommended to ambimb by: Laura
A good if not great collection. Contains a good variety of short stories, from the historical fantasy of "Documents of Passion Love" by Carolyn Ferrell to the offbeat but slightly disturbing "Selling the General" by Jennifer Egan, no two stories are the same. My favorite was "Volunteers are Shining Stars" by Curtis Sittenfeld, whose narrator at first seems a smart, kind, self-aware volunteer at a shelter for battered women and their children, but who ends up being a deluded, anti-social, unapolo ...more
Paige
Maybe I've just been out of college too long for this kind of book. I'm not into chick lit, particularly; and I'm a pretty staunch feminist, but this collection of short stories seemed to me to be a little heavy-handed in the "I'm a woman so my life is miserable" department. It's as if the editor picked stories to complete some kind of checklist: "Immigrant from third world is taken advantage of, check. Limited educational opportunity, check. Young woman sexualized by the media, check. Nasty div ...more
Carrie
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
snackywombat (v.m.)
Aug 18, 2007 snackywombat (v.m.) rated it 4 of 5 stars
Recommends it for: All the ladies
This is a wonderful intro to a whole range of emerging female writers, so if you are like me and you search out new writers before committing to a whole novel, then this is a great anthology to use. Some stand-out stories are: "The Thing Around Your Neck" by Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie, whose Half a Yellow Sun I'm putting on m TBR list; Holiday Rheinhold's curiously callous tale, "Gabe"; the amusing family drama "The 72-ounce Steak Challenge" by Dika Lam; and Roxana Robinson's wrenching, moving sto ...more
Kerri
This is probably one of those few titles where someone on the train doesn't have to ask me what the book is not about. Although I did get the few "so, what is it?" Elizabeth Merrick has compiled a fantastic collection of short stories by contemporary women writers. There was only one that I skipped over, one that was boring, and I was dissapointed by Mary Gordon's "The Epiphany Branch," which is indeed about NYPL's Epiphany Branch. It just started to sound like Mary Gordon was complaining about ...more
Christina
Aug 16, 2007 Christina rated it 5 of 5 stars
Recommends it for: EVERYONE! :)
"Chick lit's formula numbs our senses. Literature, by contrast, grants us access to countless cultures, places, and inner lives...Chick lit shuts down our consciousness. Literature expands our imaginations." (Taken from the Intro)

By the same token, the editor of this book also states, "We all need occasional cotton-candy entertainment to transport us from our increasingly overworked and overstimulated lives...The problem is, rather, that the chick lit deluge has helped to obscure the literary fi
...more
Lindsay
Apr 02, 2015 Lindsay rated it 4 of 5 stars
Recommends it for: fans of strong female writers, non-chick-lit seekers
Recommended to Lindsay by: NPR
This was a fun collection of short stories to read...it certainly is not "chick lit." It turned me on to a slew of new (to me) authors I can't wait check out. I thought the approaches of Carolyn Ferrell and Judy Budnitz were particularly creative, got me excited about starting up my first Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie book, and of course I'm eternally devoted to Aimee Bender--although the story selected for this book is not as fanciful as those in her other collections. My favorite is possibly "Selli ...more
Missy
I should have known when I saw "Elle" quoted on the cover that this book would be deeply disappointing. A great premise, certainly: a collection of stories by women that do not fit into the "girl in a big city finds Mr. Right" formula of chick lit, it tries to paint a truer, more complex portrait.

Unfortunately, most of the stories do not live up to the promise. In most, the characters are thinly drawn (my biggest pet peeve), and many of the stories were pretentiously weird/post-modernish (not i
...more
Holly
I chose This Is Not Chick Lit for book club because we don't usually pick anthologies, and I wanted us to read some contemporary women authors. I was also curious to see if the whole "chick lit" thing would provoke discussion. Indeed, a lively discussion was had. Most of us felt that although chick lit may not be high literature, it has its place and shouldn't be relegated to the Harlequin romance section, and that chick lit, as a genre, offers more than its stereotype. We also discussed the ant ...more
Marie
as many of you know, i am a lover of 'chick-lit.' but really, only to a point. that's why i think this book beckoned me. i loved the variety of authors and stories; there was no uniform theme/plot, but the stories were similar in the fact they were just great stories that weren't the young city girl shopping in high end boutiques and searching for mr. right. these were REAL stories, no fluff. i particularly enjoyed the stories by Jennifer Egan, Caitlin Macy & Chiamanda Ngozi Adichie (can't b ...more
Liz
My sister picked this book up at the library based solely on the cover and I thought it would be a great bus book. I generally don't gravitate towards short stories, so I don't have much to compare the stories to in terms of quality. I have to stick with the 'liked it/didn't like it' level of assessment.

That being said, I really liked this collection of stories; there were diverse characters and situations. I liked that some of the main characters were not sympathetic, yet I still wanted to rea
...more
Brittanie
I love to read short story collections — they're easily digestible little nuggets and the short story may be my favorite form of fiction.

But I'm used to reading collections by a single author, an author I've already established that I like. This is the first anthology I've read, and herein lies the problem — some of the stories were really, really good. Several made my throat close up and my eyes water. But there were several that just felt corny, gimmicky or forced. I can't really stand any wor
...more
Cathrine McLaren
No, it is certainly not Chick Lit, although the stories are of love and loss, they are not formulaic and in turns are dark, haunting vignettes, safe familiar tales that suddenly veer, portraits of stark childhoods and hollow adulthoods. This book is a must for any writer who is looking to jump start their creative drive, not to pattern after; but to see firsthand the direction an idea can take. And to the non-writing reader, it is a chance to explore the work of unknown and unheralded female wri ...more
Kate
Mar 26, 2008 Kate rated it 4 of 5 stars
Recommends it for: women who don't wear makeup every day :)
Recommended to Kate by: Lindsay Beckmann, of course...
You need to read this book. Particularly if you're a woman who reads Bust, or Venus, or has a feminist bone in her body. Not because this is a "feminist" book in the traditional sense, but because every story in it bucks the "chick-lit" tradition of high-heel wearing, Manhattan socialites (Yes, I do love Sex in the City and Lipstick Jungle, but they belong on TV, not in a book, so you can look at the cute boys and envy the outfits.) Lindsay recommended this book to me, and I have to agree with h ...more
Anne
I picked this up in hopes of having something to read that wasn't fluff and didn't feel like work. I got what I wanted and then some. I like the premise of the collection, to give a peak at some of the women authors of today who do something that isn't typical chick lit. Not all of the stories were great for me, but it's a matter of personal preference.

A number of reviews here state that the stories in this collection still deal with love/romance/findingmen/wantingmen and thus they are chick li
...more
Theresa
I'm putting this down in the middle because most of the stories are not good.

I hate women's literature, I find it offensive that literature by women can't just be literature. I think that while it can helpful to actively diversify what you read, a lot of shit that just isn't good gets included in "minority lit" categories. Not to say that the canon doesn't need reworking or that any minority group has less to offer literary culture than the mainstream, but incorporation, rather than genre-ifica
...more
Sarah
Jan 17, 2008 Sarah rated it 5 of 5 stars
Recommends it for: people unembarassed by the title, high school girls.
Recommended to Sarah by: Rebecca
I read this at the cajoling of my sister. Despite it's totally embarassing cover, some of the stories are in fact chick lit. Curtis Sittenfeld? I'm sorry, even if you write about an unlikeable neurotic girl, you are still writing chick lit.

But Curtis aside, there were a lot of really great and interesting stories. It was weird to read them through the specific lens of all-female authorship.... it made me more attuned to things that I started attributing to the fact that it was written by a lady.
...more
Claire
Screaming at the reader that "GIRLS CAN WRITE GOOD (important/thought-provoking/edgy) STUFF TOO!!!!!" this compilation of short stories is not what I would hand to a disbeliever in the power of lady writers. Some of the stories are fantastic and a few are good, but a couple are just boring/dumb/annoying. Is this really THE BEST out there? However, I picked up this book to find some good new female writers and I come away from This Is Not Chick Lit with a long list of new to-read authors: Chimand ...more
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