Give it up for ‘Up Lit’!

The last few books I’ve read have all been quite ‘dark’ and serious, dealing with nasty things like blackmail, abduction and murder.

In fact, one of them – Lisa Jewell’s psychological thriller ‘Then She Was Gone’ – made me cry and feel rather low when I’d finished it. I know, diddums. 😦

Apparently, (if you’re planning on reading it, don’t click on this link or it will all be spoiled for you) the ending
was going to be quite different but when Lisa submitted the manuscript to her editor, she (the editor) wasn’t sure about it and brainstormed with another editor and then told Lisa what they felt she needed to do to ‘save’ the book. (This is just one of the things that a good editor will do, if you’re lucky enough to have one!).

I like Lisa Jewell. I’ve read most of her (more cheery!) novels, since her award-winning debut, Ralph’s Party, I think she writes well and I usually enjoy her books so, it’s not her – it’s me. I don’t think psychological thrillers – or ‘dark’ books of any kind – are really ‘me’. There’s enough misery in the world without reading about more, made-up misery, in my humble opinion. (Although crime and thrillers are now the best-selling genres, so what do I know?).

Anyway, the antidote to ‘dark’ books is ‘Up Lit’ – a new feel-good genre, apparently, focussing on kindness and with a requisite happy ending (so if I cry, at least they’re ‘happy tears’!).

I’ve read – and enjoyed – Joanna Cannon’s ‘Three Things About Elsie’ and Gail Honeyman’s ‘Eleanor Oliphant is Completely Fine’ which are good examples of the genre and now, there’s a new ‘Up Lit’ book on the block: the first novel from … brace yourself… twenty-five year old Libby Page, called The Lido, which is about a group of residents who come together to try to save their local outdoor swimming pool from closure.

There’s more information about it here – and scroll down that page too, for Libby’s ‘Tips on Writing a Page-turner’.

Swimming and niceness! What’s not to like? I’m definitely adding this cheery-sounding little number to my ‘to read’ list. 🙂

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14 Responses to Give it up for ‘Up Lit’!

  1. gailaldwin says:

    The Lido is getting terrible reviews in the press. A line from The Sunday Times says: sold for a six-figure sum, this debut about saving a London lido is in danger of drowning in cliché

    • Hmm, yes, I’ve just seen that, Gail. Irish Times says something similar. Just goes to show, you don’t have to write a masterpiece to have ‘the book of the moment’! Hope I’m not going to be disappointed when I read it – but I guess that’s the only way to find out if it’s any good!

  2. Wendy Clarke says:

    As I mentioned in a recent blog post, ‘up lit’ was all the agents in the agent panel could talk about. They all agreed it was the next trend – not good for me and my suspense!

    • Hi Wendy, yes I remember you mentioning ‘Up Lit’ – it’s everywhere at the moment, isn’t it? But I wouldn’t worry. If you read the article about crime/psychological thrillers and how popular those are – especially with female readers – you may feel more cheery!

  3. I’m all for ‘up lit’. A book I read recently for book group was well written and all that (and currently on the Women’s Prize shortlist) but if I wanted to feel as down as I did when I finished it I’d just watch the news on a loop … Loved Joanna Cannon’s first book and looking forward to Elsie. I always feel cheered by Sophie Kinsella (but is that chick lit rather than up lit??)

    • I agree about Sophie Kinsella (although her more recent books don’t make me laugh as much as the earlier ones!). I think there’s quite a lot of overlap in some genres but I suppose, strictly speaking, SK is more ‘chick lit’ (if we’re allowed to use that word now!).

  4. Reading Elsie at the moment and enjoying it very much. Joanna Cannon’s first novel was a favourite read of last year.

  5. pennywrite says:

    So good to hear it for the cheery stuff! Which isn’t to say I don’t enjoy something a bit more edgy from time to time… anything as long as the writing appeals. But crime stories have never quite been my ‘thing’ whatever the trends are these days… though I might make an exception for Ellis Peters and W. C. Burley…

    • Agree, Penny. I also like a bit of ‘edge’ occasionally. I’ve read all 3 of the Robert Galbraith books and enjoyed them and they can be quite gory and violent (and sweary!) but essentially, they have a satisfying ending and that’s what I like in a book!

  6. juliathorley says:

    I’m not sure about a genre devoted to happy endings. It brings on the same feelings of unease as happy-clappy church.

    • I’ve probably not explained it too well, Julia. It’s not just about happy endings (after all, lots of books have happy endings – even in crime stories, the baddies usually get their come-uppance!) These books also tackle subjects like loneliness and dementia and ‘different-ness’ – which I have just made up – but they show people trying to help and make things better.

  7. Eirin Thompson says:

    Just a thought: womag fiction has long been ‘Up’ Lit, surely. I’m thinking particularly of The People’s Friend, with whom I’ve developed a relationship over the past year or so – they actively encourage feel-good, uplifting, inspiring and heart-warming stories, so would seem to have been well ahead of the trend!

    • Absolutely, Eirin. I did mean to mention womag stories in that post but it slipped my mind, so thanks for the reminder! The balancing act when writing for the women’s magazines (you can handle difficult themes as long as you do it gently but yes, you also need to offer hope and an uplifting ending), is something that many writers find hard to judge and it can take years to get it right. ‘Upbeat’ doesn’t mean trite stories with shallow characters. There still needs to be a strong plot and some believable characters and problems! Well done on ‘cracking’ PF – they are not easy to write for!

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