January 28, 2017

"Ms. Marnell turned the tropes of women’s magazine writing upside down, with stories like 'The Art of Crack-tractiveness: How to Look and Feel Hot on No Sleep'..."

"... which offered tips like 'Brush your teeth!' along with a how-to guide to real beauty products for fellow partyers who might, like Ms. Marnell, have spent the night in a warehouse, as she wrote, with a 'bunch of U.K. dustheads for five straight hours.' It was irresistible, and also appalling, and the internet tied itself up in knots debating Ms. Marnell’s honesty, talent, authenticity and narcissism, along with the exploitative and enabling behavior of her many bosses. Naturally, she got a book deal and a half-million dollar advance from Simon & Schuster."

From a NYT piece, "Cat Marnell, a Former Beauty Editor, on Her New Addiction Memoir."

There's a big interview with the woman, whose "hair fell out a few years ago." (She has many wigs.) She was smoking furiously and drinking a lot of coffee, then switching to wine.
I’ve just finished reading your book, which is harrowing, so I’m a little shaken.

Dude, that was four years ago. I have everything now but hair, though I’m not in recovery and I’m not clean. People are like, “Is it so brave to tell everything?” I’m like, “No.” For me, being brave would be being in a program and getting clean, instead of “I found a way to talk about my problems ad nauseam and somehow get paid for it.” Not that I want to reduce what I’ve accomplished. I want to say good things.
The interviewer is female, by the way. Penelope Green.

Here's the book: "How to Murder Your Life."

She does have an amusing writing style. You might think only other addicts would want to read about excessive drug use, but I think it all depends on the quality of the writing. You don't have to be an addict to like reading "Naked Lunch" and "Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas." But that's the male addict point of view and set of experiences. Marnell is telling us about being a "party girl" in NYC, loving fashion magazines — "I wanted to huff Anna Wintour" — and all that makeup.

And an obsession with aging:
I really think the only thing about being younger is that you look good...  I feel so protective of the young party girls who are so smart but think it’s all about being sexy and going home with the right guys. All I wanted when I was young was to be cool. Now that I’m cool, I just want to go to Europe. If I were 23, I would have fan-ed out, I would have been obsessed with, quote-unquote, Cat Marnell.
But how old is she? The article didn't say. I had to look it up. 34.

If you don't like going to the NYT, New York Magazine has its article (by Emily Gould): "Cat Marnell Is Still Alive."
In conversation, Marnell’s light, gushy voice is similar to the Eloise-y tone that makes her book so companionably charming; her laugh is always on the verge of bubbling out, and light flashes behind her marble-size irises as she speaks. Her daffiness belies a knack for offhand brilliance; even her glancing observations are writerly and insightful: “He’s so serious in such an endearing way,” “He has the craziest eyes, second to the National Geographic cover lady.” It’s fucked up to admit, but even though I’d read a lot of her writing, I didn’t expect her to be as smart as she is. She works what she calls the “wolf in bimbo’s clothing” angle, though it’s not entirely clear why a wolf would want to adopt that particular disguise. Part of it might be that she never really had a choice: she was born blonde and pretty to rich, dysfunctional parents. Worse still, one was a psychotherapist and the other a psychiatrist; a teenage Cat’s father wrote her first prescription for ADHD medication. 
And New York Magazine has an excerpt from the book. Excerpt from the excerpt:
So now I was a beauty editor. In some ways, I looked the part of Condé Nast hotshot — or at least I tried to. I wore fab Dior slap bracelets and yellow plastic Marni dresses, and I carried a three-thousand-dollar black patent leather Lanvin tote that Jean had plunked down on my desk one afternoon. (“This is … too shiny for me,” she’d explained.) My highlights were by Marie Robinson at Sally Hershberger Salon in the Meatpacking District; I had a chic lavender pedicure — Versace Heat Nail Lacquer V2008 — and I smelled obscure and expensive, like Susanne Lang Midnight Orchid and Colette Black Musk Oil.

But look closer. I was five-four and ninety-seven pounds. The aforementioned Lanvin tote was full of orange plastic bottles from Rite Aid; if you looked at my hands digging for them, you’d see that my fingernails were dirty, and that the knuckle on my right hand was split from scraping against my front teeth. My chin was broken out from the vomiting. My self-tanner was uneven because I always applied it when I was strung out and exhausted — to conceal the exhaustion, you see — and my skin underneath the faux-glow was full-on Corpse Bride. A stylist had snipped out golf-ball-size knots that had formed at the back of my neck when I was blotto on tranquilizers for months and stopped combing my hair. My under-eye bags were big enough to send down the runway at Mercedes-Benz Fashion Week: I hadn’t slept in days. I hadn’t slept for more than a few hours at a time in months. And I hadn’t slept without pills in years. So even though I wrote articles about how to take care of yourself — your hair, your skin, your nails — I was falling apart....


Laslo Spatula said...

Instantly made me think of the photo of the disheveled party girl from your January 24th post:

“At The Everything’s Going Wrong Cafe…”

With a bit of your later post:

“If "Reefer Madness" isn't enough anti-marijuana fun for you, there's this movie…”

I am Laslo.

Bad Lieutenant said...

Yeah, Las, but at least she was reasonably hot.

Bill Peschel said...

This phrase "the internet tied itself up in knots" is lazy writing.

The internet is large. It encompasses multitudes.

I've been on it nearly daily since '95 and there are still undiscovered lands, and people, and sites devoted to important and interesting things.

New York media is so provincial. It's all about them and their feelings.

Ann Althouse said...

Stick to the topics raised by the post.

Please go to the cafe to raise new topics. I don't like — especially as the first comment — statements that some other matter should have been the subject of a post and not this one.

Comment deleted.

Ann Althouse said...

"This phrase "the internet tied itself up in knots" is lazy writing. The internet is large. It encompasses multitudes."

The internet is well known to be a series of tubes. When the tubes get tied, fertility is lost.

Laslo Spatula said...

I've read stories like this, but I never thought it would happen to me…

I met this girl at an after-hours party in a warehouse downtown. She obviously had expensive tastes: fashion dress of a Designer I’d probably know if I knew such things, a shiny yellow purse that probably cost five-hundred bucks, and she was wearing a sexy blue wig.

I spent half my rent money on buying us a few drinks — what IS a “Reverse-Cowgirl Swarovski Studded Alice”, anyway? — and she started to stumble in her party shoes, in a way they probably do in Fashion Magazines.

Although the place was crowded and loud she commented how the place was so quiet on Tuesday nights, even though it was a Thursday. As she started to leave she turned and asked me ’Are you coming?’ Hell yeah I was!

I was expecting us to get an Uber, but she had a black town car waiting for her! What a girl!

We got into the back and — before the car even moved — she started sucking my cock! I mean, the lipstick on those lips around my cock probably cost a hundred dollars!

So after she finishes sucking my cock she has her driver take me home. I didn’t even have to pay for a taxi!

I would LOVE to meet her again, but now I can’t even pay rent, so it might not be a good idea. What a Party Girl, though! I hope she didn’t have herpes…

I am Laslo.

Bad Lieutenant said...

Cafe, fine, is there going to be one again sometime?

Sydney said...

An amazingly honest interview about drug abuse. She's very insightful. Too bad she's chosen to live life as a modern day Holly Golightly.

rhhardin said...

I bail out of DVDs where the plot device is drug addiction or alcoholism. There are too many minutes of plotless bad acting. Just stop fucking drinking impatience.

But then Anna Marie Cox, the original Wonkette, was very amusing on overconsumption of wine and anal sex in her reports on lefty conferences.

In real life, she reported to Imus, she didn't actually like either. It was a writing device.

So I go with the writing.

Sally327 said...

She doesn't seem to see herself as a victim of anything but her own bad choices so I respect that at least.

Lyin'PB_Ombudsman said...

For the record, I've mentioned this gal in the threads. I'm tryin' to keep you golden years types up-to-date.

You're welcome.

Laslo Spatula said...

In the article she doesn't mention shitting the bed.

You don't have a Party Problem until you've shit the bed.

People I have known.

I am Laslo.

David said...

Edie Sedgwick was unavailable for comment.

Guildofcannonballs said...

Every addict is HST or Davey, Davey Lynch, king of the wild frontier?

Aight, gimme da drugs then! I wanna be artist like Laslo.


Guildofcannonballs said...

Sorry I thought Lost Highway was Naked Lunch.

I accept ostracism and my well-deserved oblivion.

If I had drugs this wouldn't have happened. Damn you drug dealers, damn you! Why do you always pick the other guys and gals???

Sebastian said...

OK, at least this woman avoids the usual post-addiction cliches, for the obvious reason that she's still an addict. But the Cat case shows that in these postmodern times even decadence and nihilism aren't what they used to be.

Rae said...

She looks a lot like every stripper I knew when I was young and still drinking.

Yes, especially the wig.

damikesc said...

I don't know why, but it is always off-putting to me to hear addicts discuss their issues and not want to change them. I can understand not wanting change if you're not an addict...but if you're fully aware but don't care, that just seems off. And sad. Really sad.

Bill Peschel said...

"The internet is well known to be a series of tubes. When the tubes get tied, fertility is lost. "

That explains why I miss so much. I'm clearly in the wrong tubes.

Rae said...

She's literally making money off her addiction, so why change?

Roughcoat said...

What a strange person Cat Marnell is. I've known a few people like her, mostly women. I tend to cautiously walk away from them, avoiding sudden movements. I don't find people like her at all interesting. Looking at them is to look into Nietzche's abyss.

Rae said...

Addicts don't change until the price is too high to pay. For some that means they die as an addict.

Marc Puckett said...

'Horum simplicitas miserabilis, his furor ipse/ dat veniam...'-- Juvenal (Sat. II): that such people are open about their nonsense arouses pity, and their madness itself begs pardon.

Ron Winkleheimer said...

The hair thing made me think of this, skip ahead to 3:42 to get right to it.


madAsHell said...

She has an arctic parka lined with lavender fur that highlights her dress, and hair. WTF?
Did she have a Russian hooker pee on the parka?.....cuz that seems to be the rage.
Did she "lose" her hair to make the wigs more comfortable?

Does she have a cherry tattooed on her mons pubis?......like some kind of room deodorizer.

JML said...

Rae said...
Addicts don't change until the price is too high to pay. For some that means they die as an addict.

True -- that is what it took for me, though there is the occasional person who sees it coming and stops early. I'd write about my alcoholism and make a buck if I could remember any stories other then the ones from AA - all heard from others after I stopped drinking.

None of my drinking friends were socialites. Apparently I hung around the wrong crowd.

I stopped in '89. I don't want to drink again because it was too hard to give it up. I don't think I could do that again.

wildswan said...

"in these postmodern times even decadence and nihilism aren't what they used to be."

Yeah, it doesn't seem that they are getting much out of nothing.

Mac McConnell said...

Anyone else notice Gloria Steinem's hair thinning at the Vagina March? Just saying ;-)

buwaya said...

The female version of Hunter Thompson, in every way, including the difference between inward/outward attention and all.
I suspect in not too long also the effect of the higher risks females carry to their amour propre re aging.

SDaly said...

Great, but not appreciated movie is "Party Girl" with Parker Posey.

William said...

On the plus side, she'll never have to endure the pain of a Brazilian bikini wax........A young, pretty woman can always find someone to share life's heavy burden, and her body itself has at this moment enough capital to cash the checks her vices are writing. On the other side of thirty, the lifting gets heavier and it's more difficult to find others to share the burden......Well, maybe the proper way to celebrate youth and beauty and mourn their transience is to make a huge a huge bonfire and there offer oneself as the burnt offering.

Zach said...

You don't have to be an addict to like reading "Naked Lunch" and "Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas." But that's the male addict point of view and set of experiences.

I wonder if the confessional style is particularly female? In the excerpt, Marnell has the perspective of someone who is hitting bottom and is wondering how it all went wrong.

Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas is not at all a bottoming out book. Even though it could be! He spends the whole weekend drugged out of his mind and misses the race he was supposed to cover. But he writes with a very strong conviction that he is the normal one and everything else is crazy.

iowan2 said...

Like all addicts, her addiction is fueled by her character defects, which are a result of her personal relationships. The behaviour that goes unchanged, that frustrates damikesc, is not using drugs and booze. It's the behavior that that addicts refuse to change, that fuels the abuse. Not the other way around. Mostly, fear, resentment, and anger. This girl sounds like the classic ego maniac with an inferiority complex. Very pedestrian for addicts.