Emily's Reviews > How to Murder Your Life

How to Murder Your Life by Cat Marnell
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it was amazing
bookshelves: bios-memoirs, nonfiction, favorites-2017

In an unsurprising continuation of my accidental theme of 2017, I loved this book about yet another unlikeable female main character. From fiction to nonfiction, Hausfrau to The Rules Do Not Apply, I have found a real affinity for these flawed women and their stories.

I've liked Cat Marnell's writing since her time at xoJane and Vice. My familiarity with her work made this book much more enjoyable for me; if I hadn't had any prior knowledge of her life and writing, I doubt I would have been as invested as I was in her story. Many reviewers mentioned disliking the repetitive name-dropping of beauty products, fashion brands, and Condé Nasties throughout the book, but I think that the endless focus on what she was wearing and who she was trying to impress really demonstrated how screwed up her priorities were. Parts of this book were like watching an episode of I Love Lucy where Lucy embarks on a caper that's sure to infuriate Ricky and endanger his role at the Tropicana and in your head you're screaming No, Lucy-- don't do it! but you're smiling and laughing and hoping everything turns out okay, which it always does. Other parts were like watching a slowly burning building, first with small pieces falling off and then huge chunks collapsing, and everything doesn't turn out okay. It was equal parts funny, sad, and fascinating.

However, I am glad I read this book at twenty nine instead of nineteen, as I think that nineteen-year-old Emily would have walked away with the exact opposite message than I think the author intended. Cat Marnell manages to make her downward spiral toward rock bottom sound so effortlessly sexy and glamorous that I think a more impressionable reader could easily pass over the (admittedly few) self-reflective parts of the book and be seduced by the allure of sex, drugs, and designer self-tanner that ultimately led our narrator to a life in shambles. I appreciated her candor, her wit, and her acknowledgement of her privilege and truly terrible judgment, and I believe that her main takeaways (which to me were: things will get better, take care of yourself, value yourself, and don't let sketchy guys into your apartment) are valuable and worth reading through all the shenanigans.

I found myself in some of these pages, particularly the parts about struggling to form real friendships in my early twenties and allowing myself to fall into the company of disreputable characters. While I never went completely off the rails like Cat did, not even close, I know that my life's trajectory would have been a lot closer to hers if I had continued down the path I was on, filled with guys in bands and questionable piercings instead of Cat's graffiti writers and dirty designer clothes. How to Murder Your Life is a powerful memoir and cautionary tale, and I know it will stay with me for a long time.
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Reading Progress

January 6, 2017 – Shelved
January 6, 2017 – Shelved as: to-read
April 19, 2017 – Shelved as: bios-memoirs
April 19, 2017 – Shelved as: nonfiction
November 19, 2017 – Started Reading
November 27, 2017 – Finished Reading
January 15, 2018 – Shelved as: favorites-2017

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