Today's word problem: if I load up my car with trash at 3:25, and the Truro town dump closes at 3:30, and I get to the dump at 3:40, how bad will my car smell the next day?

Honestly, if I ever need to write a scene in which the heroine drives around town in a gigantic dirty diaper, I am ready.

If you've sent me an email lately and haven't gotten an answer, do not be alarmed or offended. My laptop is massively infected with three different viruses, and it's currently being debugged by a very nice computer guy in Hyannis. So, no internet for me, unless I'm at the library.

It's actually working out quite nicely. See, if I had been online a lot, I'd have had to post an indignant response to The New Republic article describing all of chick lit as being about the lives and times of "thin, attractive label whore(s) working in fashion, p.r., or magazines."

Back when I was a reporter, the rule was you needed three examples of something in order to officially declare it a trend.

I have read my share of the genre I reluctantly call chick lit -- probably at least as much as Sacha Zimmerman, who wrote the piece -- and I'm hard pressed to think of even one current chick-lit heroine who fits that description.

Andrea Sachs of THE DEVIL WEARS PRADA works at a magazine, and is thin, but only becomes a label whore in response to the toxic couture culture she's wandered into. Vig Morgan of Fashionistas works at a magazine but is too broke to be a label whore. Candace Bushnell's Janey Wilcox is a model-slash-prostitute whose struggle to avoid actually working for pay while remaining comfortably housed in the Hamptons is an ongoing joke in FOUR BLONDES and TRADING UP. And Sophie Kinsella's Becky Bloomwood could be considered a thin, attractive label whore in a stretch (although is it possible to be a broke label whore? And does it count if the labels are British?) Either way, she's such an amusing basket case that it's hard to feel threatened -- or, in Zimmerman's case, slighted -- by her.

Bridget Jones is in publishing, but she's not thin. Ditto Cannie Shapiro, and the heroine of Sarah Dunn's THE BIG LOVE, who shares with Cannie the added disadvantages of being a newspaper journalist struggling with ex-boyfriend heartache in Philadelphia, not London or New York (Dunn's Alison is also a born-again Christian, which I'm assuming disqualifies her from Zimmerman's ire -- she's hot, but chaste!)

The eponymous heroine of THE NANNY DIARIES is, well, a nanny. Rose Feller in IN HER SHOES is a lawyer-turned dogwalker, while Maggie is a layabout-turned-personal stylist. And as for BERGDORF BLONDES, which I still have not read, it seems to me that Moi, the husband-hunting Park Avenue Princess, is so far in the realm of caricature that it's hard to imagine actual readers feeling miffed or slighted that Plum Sykes hasn't chosen to describe real girls instead.

If I were online, I'd probably decry the sloppiness and the inherent sexism that allowed The New Republic (the in-flight magazine of Air Force One!) to print such an assertion. I would grind my teeth, imagining the editing process, or lack of same -- hey, it's just about those stupid girlie books. Who cares? Just say whatever you want! And throw in a made-up fifteen-year-old hacker while you're at it!

Honestly. Isn't The New Republic supposed to have fact-checkers there these days?

Jen