Despite the fact that I think Caitlin Moran doesn't really "get" YA fiction (Caitlin Moran Thinks There Are No Sexy YA Books), I still think she is hilarious and brilliant (and hopefully, with the forthcoming release of her first YA novel, she'll "get it" just a bit more). Recently I saw a list of 25 Books Guaranteed to Make You Laugh (again on Flavorwire like the above article- I spend a lot of time there), and Sloane Crosley was touted to take the "hilarious female personal essay writer" crown (which I'm sure is a thing)- and that is totes bullshit. It definitely goes to Moran. Crosley doesn't hold a candle to her. Plus, she writes about Doctor Who and Sherlock in a totally fangirl way, which is just a flat-out WIN.
While this book is "just" a compilation of articles, reviews and personal essays written over a long period for The Times: London -many of them are 1,000 words or less- it actually had witty and insightful things to say about topics ranging from feminism (definitely her forte), to LGBTQ rights, to the value of public funding for arts education.
And did I mention she's just freaking hilarious? Her style is snappy and conversational, like she could be your best friend. Her razor-sharp, MST3K-like skewering of of pop culture and the world at large manages to be not just funny, but smart and genuine. Too many writers incorporate personal anecdotes in an effort to be funny, but they often feel forced (or worse, doctored). And while we all know writers take liberties with their stories- ESPECIALLY the true ones- these feel fundamentally honest and real.
I started reading this in a haphazard, dip-in-and-out way, and like any essay book, it works that way. But about halfway through I found myself unable to parse the reading out in small doses and had to keep going. There are some essays where I'm pretty sure I highlighted 50% or more of the text on my Kindle, sometimes because the ideas were so great, but more often because the way she wrote them was so damn funny. For example, on burquas:
Well, then. Burquas seem like quite a man-based problem, really. I would definitely put this under the heading, "100 percent stuff that men need to sort out." I don't know why women are suddenly having to put things on their heads to make it better.
And on big hair:
...when it comes to wanting to look glamorous, there's something winningly practical about having huge hair. Heels cripple you, the bugle-beading on an expensive dress will chafe. Huge hair, on the other hand, can't fall off...and most importantly it costs you nothing. Aimed with a comb, you can whip your do up like egg-whites in a gigantic hair meringue, without it costing you a penny. Big hair is the party-do Marx would have backed, for sure.
These little snippets don't really convey the greatness, the stories are too much about the whole picture to quote so pithily with success, but I thought I would share anyway.
This title, basically by her own admission, was thrown together after her "real" book How To Be a Woman came out, but that's ok. It provides a great overview of her style and perspective, which has now prompted me to push said "real" book to the top of my to-read pile.