Comedy producer, Danny Wallace makes his debut in fiction writing with Charlotte Street next Thursday. The award winning journalist who is known for his hilarious books, Awkward Situations for Men has penned a Cinderella like novel that sounded so good that Working Title Films have already scooped it up. Charlotte Street is the tale of Jason Priestley, a struggling journalist who is down on his luck. In his 30s he finds himself single and struggling to make a real living. Then one day he meets the lady of his dreams and then loses her all in one day so he sets out on a mission to find her. Wallace’s novel exemplifies Lad Lit at its best. Lad Lit is defined as the phenomenon of best-selling books written by men for men which covers themes from an emotionally confused confessional male perspective. Issues such as male insecurity in relationships, problems with male identity in the 21st century and the state of play between men and women are covered. Like Chick Lit, Lad Lit came from a need to explore the changing demands on gender roles in society with men juggling new expectations of how they should behave in work, in love and in life. As with the female writers, the male writers produce candid, entertaining and hilarious stories. Nick Hornby kicked off the Lad Lit craze in 1992 with Fever Pitch which was more or less an autobiographical tale about an avid Arsenal supporter. The book was made into a film on both sides of the Atlantic – the UK version starred Colin Firth and the US had Drew Barrymore in love with Jimmy Fallon’s character who was obsessed with baseball. Since then Hornby has enjoyed great success with titles such as High Fidelity and About a Boy, both of which have been turned into very successful films.
Mike Gayle was the next author to hit the big time in the Lad Lit genre with his first release called My Legendary Girlfriend in 1998. A former agony aunt for teen girl magazine, Bliss meant that Gayle was very familiar with dealing with relationships and My Legendary Girlfriend sold 200,000 copies. My introduction to Gayle’s work was not till 2006 when I purchased a copy of A Brand New Friend; the fresh and witty style of Gayle’s writing really drew me in and I polished off the book in no time and then scouted off to amazon to order the rest of the author’s books. To date Gayle now has 11 bestsellers. Lets not forget Nicholas Sparks who is something of a phenomenon in Lad Lit with over 73 million copies sold, 11 New York Times bestsellers and seven of those books turned into very successful films. Dear John, Message in a Bottle, A Walk to Remember and The Notebook are the best known ones. Matt Dunn was another male author who rocked my boat that same year when I came across his second book, The Ex-Boyfriend’s Handbook which is the tale of Edward who finds himself dumped by his girlfriend because he has literally let himself go. Like Gayle, Dunn has a very engaging style and is also the champion of the underdog.
Other pretenders to the throne are William Sutcliffe and Matt Rudd. Sutcliffe who made his debut in 1998 with the hilarious, Are You Experienced which is about Dave, a gap year student who decides to travel to India and gets much more than he bargained for. I was introduced to Matt Rudd a few years ago by Liberty London Girl when she wrote a post about his literary talents. His books are based on William Walker who is the male Bridget Jones and we see him navigate the areas of marriage and parenthood. One Day by David Nicholls was a massive hit as a book and film and reaffirmed that guys can gives as good as it gets when it comes to modern romantic fiction. With more male authors becoming less afraid to cover male angst in fiction we can safely say that Lad Lit is here to stay.
Charlotte Street is published next Thursday and available from amazon.