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And the Heart Says Whatever by Emily Gould
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's review
Jul 17, 2011

it was ok

I alternately hated and liked (not loved, but liked) this book. It's a little too easy to skewer the queen of gossip, to hate on the narcissistic trendy hipster she represents. The truth is, she's learned some interesting truths and she writes about them well, but on the whole, I find it a bit of a yawn.

There's little to pity in Gould's early suburban life or in her college years at Kenyon. Her certainty that she is "somehow extraordinary" isn't special, anymore than her awkward sexual experiences at a frat house are. Most of the sections about her life prior to Gawker read like her writing classmates' essays she mocks in the book itself. The failed relationships, the degrading waitressing jobs, the daily pot-smoking - it's been done before, and better.

However, there are a few gems. The passage about her first "real job" at a publishing house, with the attendant dawning realization that there is no summer vacation and your job really consists of doing all sorts of things that are never actually asked of you but still need to get done, caught my attention and held it in a way that the rest of the book simply couldn't accomplish. The story of her relationship with Joseph is woven throughout anecdotes from many different periods in her life, and is heartbreaking in its honesty. The fear of being an adult realizing that your grandparents (and therefore your parents, and therefore you) are only mortal and will die someday comes through in sobering thoughtfulness.

While I've never been a Gawker fan, I've heard Gould speak before, on the topic of publishing and media and who has the right to what knowledge. What I thought I was going to get out of this book, and what I wish I had, was what the flap copy promises: a study of post-private, post-internet, post-Facebook lives now that a new generation is at the helm of the most popular media in the world. I didn't get that at all, or maybe I didn't like what I got: that we're all, deep-down, a bunch of narcissistic nymphomaniacs, prone to panic attacks blamed on office jobs. I really hope that's not what my generation gets known for.
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