Remember a couple of years back, when pink shirts became mainstream for blokes? It was a fashion revolution. Mainly because previous to that fateful day (when the Aussie ocker braved his mate’s bbq and they didn’t beat him to a pulp on sight), pink shirts were the avenue of metrosexuals and guys who didn’t know to separate the colours from the whites in the wash cycle (“it’s red, I tell you”)…
As this isn’t a fashion blog, I won’t be detailing the rise and fall of the empire of Pink Shirt.
Mainly because with the exception of the black, red and white that currently frequents every paranormal series, most covers in the book world seem to be on pretty even rotation through the ages. Or are they? There’s a whole lot of hullabaloo going on at the moment in certain literary media circles, stemming from this article. Apparently, pink book covers are a little too sweet to the stomach for some. I felt a little affronted when I first read the article…like raindrops on roses and whiskers on kittens, pink is one of my favourite things. It’s the colour of romance and cotton candy; if your kids aren’t eating their vegetables then your best bet is to paint the kitchen pink; and pink is the perfect deterrent for car thieves.
But also, in the book world at least, pink is the safe haven for petticoated Chick Lit, Mills and Boon-style romances and domestic YA fiction for girls.
It seems (as much as I hate to admit it) that the problem with pink is that it’s too brash for the bookshelf, too unreasonable when prose is wanting to be serious, too gender-specific when publishers want to appeal to both sides of the audience.
Yes I colour-code my bookshelves. And yes, one of the books is named Princess Academy. But there’s also a David Mitchell and a veritable feast of books with middle-eastern characters.
And, one of the books is also The Best Australian Essays 2008. But when I search it online? The cover comes up as a no-holds-barred royal purple. Mine on the bookshelf is at least a magenta in the flesh. Harrumph. But seriously, does it really matter what colour a book is?
I guess, yes. I don’t like Chick Lit in the slightest as a genre, and (with the exception of Lili Wilkinson’s Pink) pink YA covers make me think they’re trying to “femme up” the cover because the writing doesn’t speak for itself.
So I’m throwing it out there if you’ve got a possible answer for me: is pink itself superficial? Can it ever be taken seriously?
Or am I being superficial by judging it prematurely?