Rae Ganci Hammers's Reviews > And the Heart Says Whatever

And the Heart Says Whatever by Emily Gould
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Jan 17, 2011

did not like it
Read in January, 2011

What a colossal disappointment. I read about this book...somewhere, I can't remember where...and thought it's description promised a fulfilling look a life I daydream about - a young, literary-inclined woman in her 20s trying to make it in the big city. Blogging and boozing and break-ups and breakdowns. Scummy jobs, better jobs, dabbling with various members of the opposite sex, eye-rolling at parents who don't get it. And yes, all of those things were in Ms. Gould's book. But she didn't tell us anything new about them.

I had high-hopes - as I do with most books that I read - that the author would share something insightful, or a unique perspective. But there was none of this here. It felt like it was written by a high school student imagining what life in New York would be like, not someone who lives there. I found these essays meandering, boring, kind of superficial, void of any genuine self-reflection, and without any glimmer of surprise or discovery.

Gould's essays were unconvincingly self-deprecating and at the heart of this book was clearly an narcissistic attempt at catharsis for a break-up she still isn't over. After essay number three I wondered how many more were going to be about her break-up with Joseph. And lo-and-behold, I think 10 of the 11 dealt with that "theme" directly.

I studied modern and contemporary art in college and I used to think it really stupid and unfair when people said, "Oh, that isn't art. I could do that." One of a number of my standard replies was, "But you didn't. The artist did." I will defend this viewpoint forever - that it's difficult to judge something that you don't do yourself. However, this book really tested me thinking on this. I expected so much more from a professional writer and kept thinking to myself...even I could do better than this. So maybe Ms. Gould's book is the best book I've ever read in that sense. It may just inspire me to write my own.
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06/08/2016 marked as: read

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