How To Murder Your Life (Cat Marnell)
It turns out my book came out the same day as Cat Marnell’s!! How crazy is that? I remember talking about her during my first week in the MA course. And now here we both are, five years later. Que locura es la vida.
I love me a good addiction memoir and this one certainly did not disappoint, especially with its sordidness. I can’t tell which part was the worst–probably when a friend makes cracked out voice mails she leaves him available for purchase on iTunes for 99 cents. Or maybe all the mice hallucinations (which becomes one of the most interesting motifs in the book). Or when a guy asks her what’s wrong with her messed-up bikini line, and all she can do is mumble out the truth: “Self-mutilation.” Or when she sits on the floor of her crack-den room toasting marshmallows with a BIC lighter.
Basically, I thought this book was raw and amazing. I’ve always loved her writing and find her style so compelling. I especially find it interesting to think about all these campesinos in South America, making the cocaine that ravages the lives of David Bowie, Stevie Nicks, and Cat Marnell–what a strange world. What made this memoir stand out especially to me was its honestly about addiction as an ongoing condition, and something that isn’t easily resolved with the completion of a book.
Another thing I liked a lot is that despite writing a book that is very much about shame and self-hate, she is very much writing in her OWN voice, unapologetically so, and that is something I will always have nothing but respect for, and will always find very inspiring and brave. I’m sure some people will find her tone annoying and self-centered, but I found it witty, sarcastic, melancholic, sad, desperate, and yeah, just plain memorable. She isn’t afraid to tell her own story the way that she wants to, in a way that is authentic and singular to her, and that is something I will always admire in writers.
Haters gonna hate but this book was definitely my cup of tea–it gets a very big punk rock thumbs up.
Some of the parts I liked the most (talk about a distinctive “voice” in writing, amirite?):
“I mean, even writing about this period still makes me want to take a huge blunt full of PCP to the face–and it’s fifteen years later!” (pg. 60)
“Here’s a life lesson for you kids: it’s much easier to go through something upsetting when you’re on drugs. The more intense the drug, the more you forget your problems! It’s basic science, really.” (62)
“My parents were quiet in the car to the airport, but I couldn’t escape the voices in my head. You failure. You disaster. You disgusting girl. The self-loathing was like a radio station between my ears. Loser. You mess. Over time, I’d learn to turn the volume down on SHAME FM, but I could never totally shut it off.” (69)
“Bulimia attracts mice: fact.” (89)
“One morning he woke me up by splashing a glass of ice water in my face–and not even to raise awareness for ALS or anything! Just to be a dick.” (90)
“A wrinkly dog was wandering around–I mean, a really wrinkly dog. It should be illegal for a dog to be that wrinkly! It was the kind that Patrick Bateman slices open in American Psycho.” (92)
“I would go in on a hoagie like I was the monster ripping the head off that little man in the Goya ‘Black Paintings'” (119)
“I’ve had tanning-bed experiences that were more transformative.” (169) [in reference to a rehab stint]
“I’m never going to be okay, I thought.” (217)
“I was lonely. I was pathetic. I was weak. I was a loser. Most drug addicts are.” (240)
“‘Guuh,’ he sort of… gasped, and made a terrible, twisted face as the needle went in. My pussy got so wet. No, I am completely joking. It was the most unattractive thing I’d ever seen in my life! Junkies are the worst.” (246) [I think this was maybe the most extreme part of the book for me!]
“I slept like a clubbed baby seal that night.” (252)
“On the walk home on the Bowerty, I listened to ‘Confessions on a Dance Floor’ and tried to resist the… ennui that felt like it was about to overcome me like a cloud of poisonous gas. It’s not always going to feel like it does today, I told myself. I absolutely could not give up. I was going to get through this strange, joyless, barren patch. I was going to meet new friends. My ambition would return, too… I pulled on a Marlboro Light. I mean, I just had to be patient.” (256)
“Jesus, swimming was hard! I was out of breath so fast. Must have been all that freebasing with Marco.” (313)
“These ‘how I got my job’ chapters are extremely fucking boring to write, you know. I’m just trying to keep it saucy for all of us.” (319)
“Fucking skinny jeans! They are really contributing to this Adderall culture, I swear.” (341)
“Working out with him is better than heroin–and I’ve done, like, unbelievable heroin.” (360)
“Things could–and probably will–get bad again. Real talk!” (370) [From the afterword]
“I’ve got a hot career, a clear head, and an ice pick in my kitchen in case I need to Basic Instinct a bitch, and nobody fucks with me anymore.” (368)