Thursday, February 13, 2014

Book Review: Moranthology by Caitlin Moran


Written by: Caitlin Moran

Published: 2012

Synopsis:‘In How To Be a Woman, I was limited to a single topic: women. Their hair, their shoes and their crushes on Aslan from The Lion, The Witch & The Wardrobe (which I KNOW to be universal).

‘However! In my new book Moranthology – as the title suggests – I am set free to tackle THE REST OF THE WORLD: Ghostbusters, Twitter, caffeine, panic attacks, Michael Jackson’s memorial service, being a middle-class marijuana addict, Doctor Who, binge-drinking, Downton Abbey, pandas, my own tragically early death, and my repeated failure to get anyone to adopt the nickname I have chosen for myself: ‘Puffin’.

‘I go to a sex-club with Lady Gaga, cry on Paul McCartney’s guitar, get drunk with Kylie, appear on Richard & Judy as a gnome, climb into the TARDIS, sniff Sherlock Holmes’s pillows at 221b Baker Street, write Amy Winehouse’s obituary, turn up late to Downing Street for Gordon Brown, and am rudely snubbed at a garden party by David Cameron –although that’s probably because I called him ‘A C3PO made of ham’. Fair enough.

‘And, in my spare time – between hangovers – I rant about the welfare state, library closures and poverty; like a shit Dickens or Orwell, but with tits.’

“A library in the middle of a community is a cross between an emergency exit, a life raft and a festival. They are cathedrals of the mind; hospitals of the soul; theme parks of the imagination.”

For about as long as I've known Laura (of Devouring Texts) I have heard about how brilliant Caitlin Moran is. I went as far as to follow her on Twitter, but since her columns (all three of them) are hidden behind Murdoch's wall of pay I never got any further than to respect her awesome hair and enjoy her in 140 character bursts. I finally picked up one of her books* which, to my delight, turned out to be the one full of essays from her columns so SUCK IT MURDOCH.

Moranthology made me laugh so hard my stomach ached, it made my sigh with sadness and it made be nod my head vigorously and poke Tom saying "see! She gets it. She knows". By the time I finished the final essay my copy of the book had more orange highlighter on the pages that not on it. Everything is just so on point and so well written, I just want to get the whole book tattooed across my body. Because it's comprised of essays from her three columns (Celebrity Watch, weeklyTV and a, I want to say, general whatever she wants to write column) it touches on just about every subject, from visiting the Doctor Who set to what it's like to grow up poor to getting drunk with Lady GaGa to feminism to commenting on the Royal Wedding. It's a window into Caitlin as a woman, mother, wife and journalist while also giving a brilliant insight into English life or, at least, life from an English perspective.

I'm not sure if I could name a favourite essay in the collection. I loved the interviews with celebrities because even though they're musicians/actors/people who have been interviewed and discussed to death (Lady Gaga, Paul McCartney, Keith Richards), she seemed to get something completely new out of them and they seem so real. They don't sound like super-wealthy super-famous celebrities, they sound like people who have passions and insecurities and get silly after too many drinks. I love her articles about feminism and welfare because she brings so much intelligence and perspective to the subjects and puts forth brilliant arguments. But I also love the silly articles, the ones about the conversations she has with her husband in bed or the 800 words on why humans hate fish and fish hate humans. You really do get a little bit of everything in this book and even if you never thought you needed an intense breakdown of what vegetable should become England's national veg, by the time you finish reading Hello, English Rose (from Part One) you'll wonder how you never asked yourself the same question.

Reviewing books of essays is hard because it's not exactly like I can tell you about the plot or the success of the characterisation or the major themes. So instead I figured I'd share some of my favourite quotes and prove to you how wonderfully wonderful she is**.

On sexism:
“I have a rule for working out if the root problem of something is, in fact, sexism. And it is this: asking 'Are the boys doing it? Are the boys having to worry about this stuff? Are the boys the centre of a gigantic global debate on this subject?”
From the introduction:
“The motto I have penned on my knuckles is that this is the best world we have--because it's the only world we have. It's the simplest math ever. However many terrible, rankling, peeve-inducing things may occur, there are always libraries. And rain-falling-on-sea. And the moon. And love. There is always something to look back on, with satisfaction, or forward to, with joy. There is always a moment where you boggle at the world--at yourself--at the whole, unlikely, precarious business of being alive--and then start laughing”
On Usher at Michael Jackson's funeral:
"Ironically, Celebrity Watch can imagine Usher using "Jiggle the Lid" as the title of his next album. It has a tone of urban suggestiveness"
 Her husband's perfect end to an unwanted conversation at 1am:
"Good night, Puffin. You demented fucking bitch"
On pro-life rhetoric:
"But surely a gift is something wanted? Something suitable? A stranger's hand putting something in my pocket is the same as a stranger's hand taking something out of my pocket. Really, there should be no hand there at all.
"Babies being 'given' to women as gifts makes the women sound powerless."

Now that I've finished 300+ pages of these columns I kind of want to subscribe to The Times so I can continue to read them, but since I'm not made of money I think I might just look into getting a copy of How to Be A Woman, watch the videos of her on Youtube and cross my fingers really hard that she releases another book soon. But whether you succumb to Murdoch*** and pay to read her columns each week or simply buy this book and read it over and over, you should definitely read what Moran writes. Because it is truth - weird, wacky and wonderfully wordy truth.

*I literally just grabbed it when I saw it sitting on the shelf at the bookstore and ran to the counter.

**Apparently not everyone thinks so. She is currently on Tumblr's shitlist. I was looking to see if there were any gifs of her talking or giving interviews and apparently reading some Sherlock fanfic at a BFI event with the cast made people lose their minds. It's kind of insane actually.

***Sorry, I just really fucking despise Murdoch.


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