“Chick lit” we actually like

We didn’t mind Helen Fielding’s Bridget Jones’s Diary and liked Melissa Bank’s The Girls’ Guide to Hunting and Fishing. However, the phrase “chick lit” — coined to pigeonhole (and disparage) those two bestsellers, and thereafter all comic novels by and about women with problematic love lives — we’ve always hated completely.

But now we’re wondering if our nomenclature problem has led us to ignore some excellent reads.

Because Patricia Marx’s new book (out 1/9) is certainly of the genre: It’s a first novel with a super-cute title (Him Her Him Again the End of Him) and a young female narrator who has a cad for a lover, a glam job, a difficult mother, and winning friends. But it’s also deeply funny and charming, an impeccable screwball comedy with just enough melancholy beneath the surface to seem anchored in real life.

The heroine’s self-deprecating asides — “I sense I haven’t convinced you yet,” “You’re probably going to be bored with anything I say about weather” — come across not as postmodern literary pretension but as the intimacies of a real person and lovable pal.

BUY Him Her Him Again the End of Him (Scribner; 232 pages, hardcover)

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