I'm embedding this because I can't embed the diavlog that I did last week with Gottlieb herself. "Marry Him" is the book I was talking about back here, where I responded strongly to someone who said that books based on Atlantic magazine articles aren't worth much more than the original article. (Here's the original "Marry Him!" article.) And I said:
I just paid $25+ for a 300+-page book that was an expansion of an article from The Atlantic. I did that for a Bloggingheads diavlog, and — you'll see when it's up — the author scolded me for skimming. Did that open the door for me to scold her for padding? Readers and writers — we all have our tactics and must guard our own interests. You pad. I skim. Or I take a look in the bookstore and put that thing right back on the pile. Unless I'm scheduled for a diavlog. In which case, I tough it out. Up to a point. Then I just scream. On my blog.But you won't see when it's up, because it will never be up, because Gottlieb's side of the diavlog disappeared somehow. Technical difficulties, I'm told. All that work of skimming 300 pages and talking for 47 minutes.
The book is written in a breezy, chatty style, but I couldn't get a conversation rolling at all. When I asked questions based on what was in the book, she mostly said read the book, it's in the book, etc. etc. I was trying to get past the actual contents of the book and to understand her motivation for writing it. Did she really want to get married? Would she really settle for Mr. Good Enough? If so, why wasn't she married yet? Was she really giving women good advice?
Gottlieb relied heavily on social science surveys about how married people are happier, but married people are the people who got married. You can't say, then: The people who aren't married would be happier if they got married too. They are the people who couldn't find what they felt they wanted or couldn't find real love in their own hearts or inspire it in others or had a greater skepticism about the value of relationships or who put a lot of stock in personal freedom or any number of other things. It was irrational to extrapolate that marriage would make them happy too. Even assuming those surveys about who's happy are sound (or even say married women are happier than single women).
ADDED: Look, some NYT reporter spent an evening with Lori Gottlieb and got just about nothing interesting out of her. Here, you can see me in real time, trying to get Lori Gottlieb to talk about something less trivial than how tall or short people are. This is late in the conversation, and I am struggling to remain decently gracious:
AND: Let me give you 2 more of my clips. In this one, I'm trying to get at Gottlieb's complaint about feminism (and getting nowhere):
In this clip, I invite Gottlieb to talk about divorce.
Could you tell what the other end of the conversation was like? At first, Gottlieb didn't understand what I was saying. She thought I said that she'd already written something called "Divorce Him." (I wonder if "good listener" is one of the factors we should toss out in our search for Mr. Good Enough.) When she got my question, which was whether she would also advise married women to divorce men who had stopped being good enough, she was clear that the answer was yes. She said "You're not dead" very sarcastically. The idea that marriage is a permanent commitment seemed not to be ping-ponging around anywhere in her head. You stay with that man to the extent that he serves your interests.