Saturday, January 19, 2013

Moranthology by Caitlin Moran

Sometimes, I thought a little bit of Caitlin Moran goes a long way. At other times, just like taking that first shimmering sip of champagne and immediately wanting another, I couldn't stop reading.

I wish I had skipped over the 15-page introduction to Moranthology (2012),  a collection of her columns from the Times of London. There, I didn't like the smart-alecky, too cheeky, too crass, too 'Oh-see- how-clever/angry/outrageous-I-am" Caitlin Moran.

But I hung with her, although I will admit I didn't read her introductions to each of the 50 columns in the book. I just went for the champagne.

I learned a lot from Ms. Moran. To wit:

1. That Keith Richards perhaps really is a pirate.

2. Who Lady Gaga is; who Amy Whitehouse was.

3. The way in which the author came to adopt the silver streak in her hair.

4. How the Royal Wedding played out on British TV and over Twitter.

5. How funny she is.

As I read, I found myself looking back at her photo on the cover with her typewriter balanced on her knees, her feet stuck in blue hiking boots. Did these diverse thoughts really come out of that head?

She offers a terrific first-hand treatise on poverty (which fortunately I have never experienced). She writes:  

When you are poor, you feel heavy. Heavy like your limbs are filled with water. Perhaps it is rain water -- there is a lot more rain in your life, when you are poor. Rain that can't be escaped in a cab. Rain that has to be stood in, until the bus comes. Rain that gets into cheap shoes and coats, and through old windows -- often followed by cold, and then mildew. A little bit damp, a little bit dirty, a little bit cold -- you are never at your best, or ready to shine. You always need something to pep you up: sugar, a cigarette, a new fast song on the radio. 

She sings a love song to libraries, which she calls Cathedrals of the Soul, and the doors that they opened for her and how many doors would close, literally and figuratively, if the British government's budget cuts shut so many of them down. She fears the closed properties will be sold and turned into pubs and coffee shops. That no new libraries will be built to replace them. That the libraries will be lost forever.

And in their place, we will have thousands more public spaces where you are simply the money in your pocket, rather than the hunger in your heart...Libraries that stayed open during the Blitz will be closed by budgets.

On a much, much lighter note she makes mock of Downton Abbey. I like Downton Abbey. I watch the show. But it is fun to read her take on the upstairs/downstairs goings on, the swiftly moving plot, the handsomeness of Cousin Matthew. 

A caveat: At times throughout the book, her choice of words can be somewhat coarse, and I wanted to tsk-tsk her with Lady Violet's luscious comment "Vulgarity is no substitute for wit."

But I can not fault a woman who cried when she met Paul McCartney. I would have wept as well.

I could go on. There are literally hundreds of rapid-fire, outrageous, heart-felt, thought-provoking lines in the book's 235 pages. But, like sipping champagne, reading Ms. Moran is something you have to experience for yourself. 


  1. Very interesting to read your thoughts on this, Belle! I agree that the intro should be skipped to make the best impression but I did love her brief introductions to each piece. Sometimes they were better than the articles themselves! I will always treasure the image of her and Dan Stevens getting trashed together.

    1. Maybe now I will go back and just read the intros!

      Ms. Moran is a very complex woman. I can't imagine that she was late to interview Prime Minister Gordon Brown AND Lady Gaga. I did laugh at the late-night conversations with her husband and I did happen to read the intro about Dan Stevens. You are right; such a night.

      Thanks for you comments, Claire.