So, I have this thing where I don’t Write About Writers. Living Writers, that is! I think it is goofy, and boring, and promoting yourself at the expense of someone else in your same field is a shitty thing to do, and I myself am so under-experienced and non-professional and basically bad at everything that I don’t feel qualified to do it, AT ALL, and also, I don’t know what happened to you while you were writing that article or blog post or whatever. Once I wrote something on a very tight (like: “can you have it to us within the hour” tight) deadline while also puking. Unsurprisingly, it was not Didion! Or even, like, Didion’s stupider, less insightful cousin with a blog! And if someone had said anything mean about that article on their own personal blog, I would have booked a plane ticket so that I could come over and puke at THEIR house while THEY tried to analyze gender politics issues in a pithy and concise manner and also I believe that morning I was doing interviews. I have this theory that they would be distracted, too!
So, no. I don’t write about writers, or blog about bloggers. Unless, that is, they make me EXTREMELY ANGRY!
There is a review of And the Heart Says… Whatever by Emily Gould. This review, it is in Time Out New York. I happen to disagree with it! Strongly! I liked the book! (And, for the record, I think any review that runs, “but why didn’t the author write a completely different book, on a topic of my choosing” is sad and like your brain just took a crap all over a Microsoft Word document, for money. No-one wants to hear your fan fiction fantasies, Professional Reviewer!) But that is not what is most relevant here. What is most relevant are my feelings about the little sidebar or underbar or whatchamacallit that ran with it! Here is the text of that sidebar or underbar or whatthefuckever it is, in its entirety:
Emily Gould’s memoir doesn’t quite make it to the “tell-all” category. If you’re looking for a kick in the pants, these novels and memoirs deliver.
At Home in the World
By Joyce Maynard
J.D. Salinger’s former gal pal went public with their relationship in this 1999 memoir, which recounts Salinger’s psychoses (sleeping in the bathtub, drinking his own urine) and the existence of tons of unpublished writing. Scandalous!
The Bell Jar
By Sylvia Plath
Worried about what her mother would think of this severely autobiographical novel, Plath published the book under a pseudonym in the U.K. She was right to be apprehensive: When the book was finally published in America after her death, Aurelia Plath flipped out, along with the rest of the country, at Plath’s scathing and terrifying honesty.
By Kathryn Harrison
Harrison’s memoir of her four-year incestuous relationship with her father and her difficult relationship with her mother is absolutely devastating and beautifully written.
All the Sad Literary Young Men
By Keith Gessen
If you’re looking for a truly relentless look at the New York literary world, check out Emily Gould’s boyfriend’s compelling and at times even touching novel.
Deceived with Kindness
By Angelica Vanessa Garnett
The niece of Virgnia Woolf revealed much about the sexual proclivities of the Bloomsbury group when she told all about learning the identity of her biological father (painter Duncan Grant) and marrying his former lover when she was 24.
I’m sorry. Did you catch that? Because I caught that. Because LET’S BREAK DOWN THIS LIST OF “TELL-ALLS”:
- Novel, which, from what we know of the author’s life, bears remarkably close and almost one-to-one similarity to the author’s experiences; although, there is the question of whether something you publish as fiction and with a pseudonym on it can be considered a “tell-all” when it really seems to have been purposefully distanced from the author, not so much a “tell all” as a “tell as little as possible,” really, and also, we should maybe respect the choice to publish it as fiction as a sign that it is probably fictionalized, but ah fuck it there’s worse on this list so let’s just move on.
- “Check out Emily Gould’s boyfriend’s” novel; amount of information about how closely any or all of this parallels the author’s life is not nearly as available or well-substantiated as anything about The Bell Jar; also, it says “fiction” on the cover.
So, again, in case I am being too subtle for you:
- Autobiographical fiction
Now: I liked the book. I think the reviewer is wrong about the book. But the reviewer’s thoughts on the book are beside the fucking point, at this point. The point is that I have never read a professional fucking review of a man’s work, however negative or ad hominem the review might be, in which the reviewer felt compelled to add, “but also, his female partner’s work in a completely different genre is better!” Like, “I don’t know how I feel about The Yiddish Policemen’s Union, but if you want something that is like The Yiddish Policemen’s Union but better, I recommend Ayelet Waldman’s memoir about parenting!” I keep looking at that byline, and it keeps being a lady’s name, and that keeps making me want to stab my own eyes out.
You can really tell that the reviewer is passionate about the Gessen novel, and not at all including it as a gratuitous detail, though, because of the tremendous care taken to publish its title correctly. I mean, my copy says All the Sad Young Literary Men, and not All the Sad Literary Young Men, but whatever! I am sure that is but a typo, on the book’s jacket cover! Right next to the red lettering under the author’s name that reads “fiction,” when clearly it is meant to read “tell-all memoir of all my life and scandalous doings.” Yes, I too own All Sad Young the Literary Men, professional reviewer! Men All the Literary Sad Young has a place on my bookshelf, right next to Sense Sensibility and, and Year Thinking of the Magical.
Shitting me got to be you have. Christ Jesus.