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lad lit

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A marketing term of the 1990s in Britain, referring to a new kind of popular fiction concerning the ‘lad’ of that period, a supposedly carefree hedonist devoted to football, beer, music, and casual sex: a figure created in contrast to the feminist-defined ‘New Man’ of previous decades. Some publishers believed that such fiction would open up a lucrative new lad readership, but they discovered that although lads bought glossy magazines pitched to them at that time (Arena, FHM, Loaded), they hardly ever bought books. The key texts of this genre were the early novels of Nick Hornby, Fever Pitch (1992) and High Fidelity (1995), each of which has a protagonist dominated by a typically masculine obsession (Arsenal Football Club, a record collection) that highlights his inability to communicate with women. Other authors associated with this new wave of fictions about inadequate young British masculinities include Tony Parsons (Man and Boy, 1991), Tim Lott, and Mike Gayle. The term has sometimes been extended retrospectively to cover earlier fictions about selfish young men, including Martin Amis's The Rachel Papers (1973) and even the American novelist Bret Easton Ellis's Less Than Zero (1985). Since British lad lit arrived in the USA slightly later than the more successful first wave of chick lit, it was mistakenly believed to be a backlash against the Bridget Jones phenomenon; in fact the correct answer to the question ‘which came first, the chick or the lad?’ is: the lad. Adjective: lad-lit.

Subjects: Literature

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