Moranthology isn’t actually next in my woefully ambitious ‘Books I Need To Review’ list, but I was so desperate to talk about it after I read the review of How To Be A Woman at Sarah Says Read (my own is here), that I had to bump it up. I adored that book; it featured on so many of my lists last year – the best books of 2011, the best book quotes, the best books to read if you’ve never read non-fiction… There are many, but the point is that I loved it. That’s why I felt so very sad when Moranthology not only failed to deliver but also actually occasionally made me so angry I had to stop reading. What’s that? You’d like to hear my vaguely-relevant rant? Well alrighty then!
MORANTHOLOGY is proof that Caitlin can actually be ‘quite chatty’ about many other things, including cultural, social and political issues which are usually the province of learned professors, or hot-shot wonks – and not a woman who once, as an experiment, put a wasp in a jar, and got it stoned.
These other subjects include:
Caffeine | Ghostbusters | Being Poor | Twitter | Caravans | Obama | Wales | Marijuana Addiction |Paul McCartney | The Welfare State | Sherlock | David Cameron Looking Like Ham | Amy Winehouse | Elizabeth Taylor’s Eyes | Michael Jackson’s Funeral | ‘The Big Society’ | Big Hair | Nutter-letters | Failed Nicknames | Wolverhampton | Squirrels’ Testicles | Sexy Tax | Binge-drinking | Chivalry | Rihanna’s Cardigan | Boris Johnson – Albino Shag-hound | Party Bags | Hot People| Transsexuals | The Gay Moon Landings | My Own, Untimely Death.
I understand that many of the points that bothered me about Moranthology will not offend the majority of (slightly more rational) readers, but this is my review and as such I will write what I jolly well like! It’s not a bad book, but it does seem to me like it was published purely to drift off the success of How To Be A Woman – there’s very little new material, as it’s just a collection of her columns from The Times.
To be fair, there is a huge range of different topics, from Ghostbusters to the time when she was late to interview the Prime Minister. The Contents page is particularly helpful with keeping things straight. Seriously, every book should have pages like this.
It’s just nowhere near as funny as How To Be A Woman. There are a few snippets that made me giggle, but not many and I choked on my own spit pretty much the entire way through her first book. Perhaps I’m not being fair by constantly comparing the two, but if she’s going to churn out a nothing-book just because her first was a success, I feel more or less justified.
Speaking as someone who, four days a month, really might faint on the Tube if someone doesn’t give up their seat, I am eternally grateful for any gentlemen who stands as I limp into his carriage. Sometimes, I have been suffering so badly on public transport I have inadvertently let out a low, animal-moan of ‘Maaaaa’ – then had to style it out by pretending to be a slighly unhinged person singing along to ‘Mamma Mia’ on my iPod. I have had swooning moments so intense I had to rest my head on a Slovakian’s rucksack, while mouthing the words ‘Don’t faint, Cat-Mo; don’t faint’ into a gigantic outside zip.
However. However, however, however. What primarily made me not like this book as much as I could have was pretty much what Sarah talked about in her review. She contradicts herself all the time! In one chapter she talks about how inspiring and feminist Lady Gaga is for going out in just her underwear (I’m not exaggerating), and in the very next chapter discusses how women in music videos need to wear more clothes and how pathetic they are. What? What!? No! It’s fine (more or less) if you have different opinions to me, but for God’s sake at least make your own consistent, whether you’re starstruck (and brainwashed) or not.
So that’s 2a) of my rant. The second part is related, but more personal. It’s also more directed towards Lady Gaga herself but also a tad towards for Caitlin Moran for buying into this garbage. So, not only is LG all snivelling and ‘I live for my fans’ type crap, but she also hints strongly throughout the entire piece how very, very ill she is but she’s a trooper andperseveres anyway. Right afterwards in an obviously directly unrelated comment she mentions how a relative of hers died of Lupus. Caitlin Moran gasps. “Isn’t that hereditary?” she cries. Lady Gaga gently lowers her eyes and looks up through her long, dark eyelashes. “Yes,” she says softly*.
Oh fuck OFF. Lupus is absolutely not hereditary and I’m sorry but there is no way anyone with even a smidge of Lupus could prance around on stage for any length of time, however much of a trooper they may define themselves as. The symptoms she hints at are ridiculously unrelated to Lupus and are pretty much what anyone might suffer from when they don’t eat and travel the world. Caitlin Moran writes about this in such a gloopy, woe-is-her fashion that it makes me sick. Between this and the inconsistent views on feminism (she is also completely in favour of positive discrimination), I actually feel a little betrayed.
And yes, it sounds like I’m over-reacting. Perhaps I am. And I know how I shouldn’t judge a book because it doesn’t agree with my own views. But in How To Be A Woman, she came across as so sensible and down-to-earth and now she’s buying into anti-feminist clap-trap and swooning over celebrities. I’ve lost a lot of respect for Caitlin Moran, a) for publishing this collection in the first place when it seems like a money-making/publicity scheme and b) for falling into the group of people she purports to dislike in her first book.
Parts of it are very funny and other parts are very moving, but there are offensive and slightly boring sections too. As a whole, it’s worth reading but be prepared to have your opinion of Caitlin Moran slightly lowered.
*This is not a quote. But it’s not far off either.