New Literary Pejoratives

The time has come for the literary world to move well beyond the terms “chick lit” and “lad lit” and add more literary pejoratives to the lexicon. After all, if we can’t find a way to take the piss out of every book turned out by the publishers, how can the literary world be counted upon to sustain its vitriol? Crouch-Peck altercations in restaurants simply aren’t cutting it these days. The book review sections continue to play it safe. The time has come to step up the enmity with a brand new set of ad hominen terminology!

What follows is a running list of terms with which to flood your blogs, your essays, your literary cocktail party banter and your term papers with. Feel free to add your suggestions in the comments.

  • Brit Lit: Any novel published by the Granta 20 authors. Should be used as a pejorative particularly when the author is very friendly (e.g., Sarah Waters and David Mitchell).
  • Clit Lit: Any steamy but ultimately banal memoir relying upon explicit description of sexual conquests to boost sales. (Example: Toni Bentley’s The Surrender.)
  • Corp Lit: A bland memoir ostensibly penned by a former CEO, but actually ghost-written by someone else, often masquerading as a self-help book or a source of empowerment. (See Jack Welch’s oeuvre.)
  • Geezer Lit: Any novel that is published to placate a Very Important Author along the lines of Mailer, Updike or Roth. Ideally, the book features an affluent protagonist over 50 who is (a) going through a midlife crisis, (b) having an extramarital affair, or (c) living in a spacious New England home.
  • Thick Lit: Novels that are ridiculously long and are announced by publishers as “a major literary event.” (See Paul Anderson’s Hunger’s Brides and Suzanna Clarke’s Jonathan Strange and Mr. Norrell.) Also applies to more credible long-winded novelists along the lines of David Foster Wallace and William T. Vollmann.
  • Trick Lit: Novels that frame or recontextualize their stories through a common tale or mythology because the novelist can’t come up with anything particularly original on his own. (See Gregory Maguire.)
  • Wonk Lit: Any memoir or political volume published by a former politician. Often, wonk lit titles are desperate ploys to restore credibility and/or standing with a public who has rapidly forgotten of the ex-politician in question. (Examples: Al Gore’s An Inconvenient Truth, Gary Hart’s Restoration of the Republic.)
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  1. New Literary Pejoratives

    The time has come for the literary world to move well beyond the terms “chick lit” and “lad lit” and add more literary pejoratives to the lexicon. After all, if we can’t find a way to take the piss out of every book turned out by the publishe…

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