Tuesday, July 27, 2010

Three Months Too Late Book Reviews

Because I'm incapable of reading or writing about anything when people care about it, I got And the Heart Says Whatever by Emily Gould from the library this weekend and then wrote four paragraphs of stuff that's already been covered, I'm sure. Oh well.

It’s not that I am opposed to someone monetizing her life. I’m not really even all that pissed about someone monetizing my life, mostly because of that old, possibly made up rule I learned when my third grade teacher was trying to get us to write Formal Letters to politicians and/or candy companies: for every person who does write a letter, there are a hundred more who feel the same way but don’t. If there are two girls who grew up in the suburbs, went to college in Ohio, worked in publishing, had empty-ish New York sex lives, bounced around different apartments in Brooklyn, lived with adopted dogs and got heart tattoos on their hips, there have got to be several hundred others. One of us was going to publish that story. The thing that does piss me off is that none of us should be paid to write about that life with passion that amounts to a shrug. The title “And the Heart Says Whatever” set me up for some degree of apathy, but it actually makes me angry that I read two hundred pages of disinterested bitchiness unseen outside a middle-school note. Yawn, then I got a job at Gawker. Eye roll, I was sad. Sigh, then everything was, like, dumb, and I kept thinking I was going to be good at something but I wasn’t, and yet here I am with a book deal. Or whatever.

And the salt in the paper cut is the way that very tone makes criticizing it impossible. I’m mad that Emily Gould has a balloon. I really want to pop it, but I can’t, because she already sat on it.

That was my gut response. Thinking about it for a little longer, I’m just not sure what anyone is supposed to take from this book or why it was published at all. I can’t imagine that a publisher signed this book for the huge number of Gawker readers from a few years back clamoring for a couple of pages about Gould sleeping with another Gawker editor, so she’s got to be considered some kind of poster girl for something, right? Between her New York Times Magazine cover story and this memoir, it feels like Emily Gould is being held up as the voice of some group. Demographically, I have to be a part of that group. All I can say is that nothing she described rang a single bell as I read it. The way she’s written about young adulthood, or New York City, or the publishing/media industry, or dating—the four themes that run throughout the book—is nothing more than a listless outline of her experience followed by reasons why no one should take her seriously anyway. So, why don’t we take her up on it? Don’t take her seriously, Publishing. Stop. Grab any 20-something off the street and I bet he or she could give you an essay of a thousand words about their life that justifies both publication and the living of that life.

To read anyone write about experiences so close to my own with so little care is irritating, for sure. What drives me nuts, though, is knowing that someone in publishing thinks her brand of oh, fuck it arrogance is somehow culturally resonant and representative of more than just this one bored voice.


Anonymous Sarah said...

This was better than any review of her book I've read thus far, even the negative ones.

12:02 PM  
Blogger Kathy said...

Well, thanks! I want to post a good one sometime soon; I hate posting hater posts (she sells sea shells...) but this one kinda made me foam at the mouth a bit.

3:04 PM  

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