Interesting piece in Salon about the (arguable) demise of chick lit that includes a broader survey of genre trends that have come and gone.
Laura Miller writes “What kills a genre isn’t always clear. Supposedly, the readership for the western turned to urban crime fiction sometime in the 1970s. Why? Were they simply tired of cowboys and gunslingers, or had the myth of the Old West been too thoroughly undermined by counterculture critics and Native American activists?” You can still find battered old gothics in junk shops and used bookstores, but as an instantly identifiable genre they’re no longer being published.
Other “expired genres” she cites include gothic novels, adventure novels a la H. Rider Haggard’s SHE and Horatio Alger rags-to-riches stories. Can you think of others? Or have you watched the fortunes of a favorite genre decline and fall? If so, do you care to speculate on the cause of death?
Here is one micro trend that I’m rather enjoying: namely, the other-cultures-create-better-parents polemic (see Amy Chua’s ubiquitous Tiger Mom and the present coverage of Bringing Up Bebe.) Perhaps my own wide-eyed expat experience in Cairo colors my reaction, but I’m sympathetic to the feelings of amazement/niggling inadequacy that author Pamela Druckerman channels. The whole time I lived in Egypt, I felt faintly astonished by the comportment of Egyptian children, who accompanied their parents everywhere as a matter of course and seemed as indulged and adored as American youngsters, but infinitely more patient. I’m not quite ready to write a book on my own unscientific musings, but I’m looking forward to other cultures weighing in, surely China and France cannot dominate the conversation!