A Male Voice in Chick-Lit

Ms. Taken Identity by Dan Begley

Whether we admit it or not, we all love a little "chick lit" from time to time. To me, it's the same as watching a romantic comedy, also known as a "chick flick". Is this an insult to women? I don't think so. Most of the "chick" media I've read and watched has been witty and engaging,with a somewhat predictable ending, of course, but usually one or two unpredictable twists in the middle. Somebody out there must be reading these books besides me, because they are huge sellers, which esoteric struggling author Mitch Samuel, the protagonist of Ms. Taken Identity discovers when his 700 page debut novel is rejected by every publisher in America, and most agents.
A series of funny events leads Mitch to decide that he can write romantic adventure, but he'll have to do it as a woman. No publisher or author will read romantic fiction written by a man! Mitch acts as the representative of his "cousin" who is a reclusive author, and receives guidance as her manager from the world's premiere author of romantic fiction. So there we have lie #1. Mitch does not have a cousin, he is writing the book himself. In the process of researching the life of what he sees as a shallow, uneducated, materialistic, woman, Mitch meets a woman who he really likes. Unfortunately, the first thing he says to her is a lie, calling himself Jason, and giving a false career, and now he can't take it back. The biggest problem with lie #2? Not only is Mitch falling fast for Marie, but it turns out she is his best friend's sister, who has been living far away for several years, therefor they have never met.
Mixed in with all of the silliness of Mitch keeping track of his lies, are two other more elemental story lines, Mitch's extremely strained relationship with his father, and his skewed feelings on the superiority of education, and thus himself. As Mitch continues his research and meets people outside of academia he learns to make jokes, hang out and just have fun, rather than having every social encounter be a philosophical debate. He loses his smugness and cynicism as he realizes that there really are people in the world who are just nice. It even changes the rhythm of his writing, which he describes as chess-like, each word written with a deliberate, thoughtfulness.

But this writing is different; it's crisper, quicker, more bang bang: get those characters on stage and get them talking or laughing or
kissing...Get them
living.

Of course Mitch gets caught in both of his lies, but is it before or after his book is accepted by a publisher? Or is it ever finished? Is the writing of popular fiction something Mitch cannot handle? Or does he sacrifice his book for his love of Marie? These are all possibilities that I contemplated while reading Ms. Taken Identity.
Unlike Mitch, Dan Begley, the author of Ms. Taken Identityproudly has his name and photo on the book, as he definitely should. The story is excellent, the characters are multi-faceted, the pop
culture references are hysterical, and it is all-together well written. To top off all of this positivity, it is in paperback, great for taking to the park or beach. This is the first novel from Mr. Begley, and I look forward to seeing what he will have for us in the
future.

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