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In May 98 I came across Kathy Lette's book Mad Cows. I was curious of brit chick lit after having read Helen Fielding's diary of a certain frustrated feline. If you liked the hysterics and drama of Bridget Jones: The Edge of Reason you may also be entertained by Kathy's new book Dead Sexy. When it comes to catastrophies in love life Lette's message to Fielding may be something along the lines of "mine is bigger than your's" though.

Anyway, the new bitch lit seems to be littered with hip rethorics and burlesque language. Living in a Norwegian outback there are expressions and new thoughts to be discovered, words and phrases that were not taught neither in primary nor in upper secondary school. I.e. is W.I.F.E. an abbreviation for Washing, Ironing, Fucking, Etc., according to Lette. She excells when stereotyping an American male:

'Hey,' Kit Kinkade interrupted, 'with the right man you'd always be in the mood too.' His elongated vowels left a verbal vapour trail. 'You need proof that it's a woman's world? Well then I have two words for you, kiddo.' He leant back on the leather seat, arms spread along the back of the upholstery, smugly pleased with himself. 'They are "multiple" and "orgasm". Another reason the sex war is your fault. We men are so givin'. While you chicks are so selfish and demandin'! You're always callin' out, "Don't stop! Don't stop!" for hour after exhaustin' hour. To delay orgasm we're s'posed to think of somethin' awful. Well, I once thought of Andrea Dworkin, Anne Widdecombe and Barbara Bush naked, and delayed my orgasm by three goddam months!' Kit opened his mouth wide and guffawed again, that cynical, rude jazz-point American laugh which had slightly irritated Shelly at first but which she was now starting to find unaccountably enchanting.

This rather bizarre picture stuck and left me (your humble author) shivering. Our main female character is heavily influenced by her upbringing, quoting her mother:

'What must a woman do when a man is running around in circles? Reload and carry on shooting' was her catchphrase.* Maternal warnings about the evils of men were practically tattooed on Shelly's brain.

* A note to old Norwegian readers: Please feel free to think of the song Faens Küler Treffer Aldri Riktig/Faens Kuler treffer aldri riktig by Wannskrækk, 1981.

A bit later we may read: "... Shelly found Kit all too easy to psychoanalyse. He would never need to regress to his childhood, because he'd clearly never left it." Ouch! How I love post-feminist sarcasm! Another question which caught my attention was: "Yes, there is a lot to be said for celibacy, and most of it began with 'Why me?'

On the Reunion island, where most of our story takes place, Shelly also takes time to rivalize a much younger, slender and voluptuous singer (with 'a balcony') whose native language is french: "'Mon dieu! You 'ave a coral cut!' she gushed, before rummaging through her first aid kit for aloe vera and echincea. Coco was obviously the sort of gal who has raspberry enemas and befriends tumours. Her approach was nothing short of Nouveau Voodoo. She obviously had gone native with all the homopathic gooblegook."

Our hero, Kit, also seems to be concerned about cultural differences and clichées. Sulking over a female ghost of his, he utters:

Ha ha. From that moment on she started to change. No more laughin' at my jokes. She started criticizin' my clothes, my music. She enrolled me in elo-fuckin'-cution classes. She made me give up my buddies and only hang out with her snobbish pals: "I'll let you play with my hyphen if I can play with your's."

Lette...

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