Ultimately, chick lit isn't supposed to criticize society; it's supposed to reflect it, highlighting the particularly absurd parts for the audience's amusement. Which is what's worrisome about job horror as a subgenre of women's fiction. As a society, we're still pretty ambivalent about what makes a successful woman. Witness the huge flap around the September New York Times article that suggested Ivy League women plan to quit their jobs once they become mothers. Or the controversy in 2003 surrounding a Times magazine piece about high-status women who've "opted out" of work to be full-time moms"opting in" their husbands as primary breadwinners.
Chick lit has played off these old tropes for years-long enough for it to spawn multiple splinter groups. Sitting a few slots above Weisberger's novel on the New York Times bestseller list is Weiner's Goodnight Nobody, a murder mystery starring a stay-at-home-mom sleuth. The book takes place in a fictional Connecticut burb where social pressures force all the women to spend their post-childbirth years baking flaxseed muffins. One gets the impression that if Betty Friedan had ever reached these ladies (or their husbands), nobody would be murdering anybody. Forget job-horror: the newest genre of chick lit might just involve the retro horror of not having a job at all.