In the latest issue of Bookforum, Ana Marie Cox, the Washington correspondent for GQ and founding editor of Wonkette, reviews And the Heart Says Whatever, a new memoir by Emily Gould. The careers of Cox and Gould dovetail slightly--Cox left Wonkette, which was then owned by Gawker Media, some months before Gould became an editor at Gawker, a position she held for a little more than a year. As Cox notes in her piece, the two writers have more in common than a gift for witty, readable prose. "The picture [of Gould] that emerges is of someone I am pretty sure I'd like," Cox writes, "a suspicion grounded by our having many mutual friends but really based in both the superficial details... and a shared sensibility. There is, after all, a reason why we both got jobs at Gawker."
Cox is evenhanded here and throughout the review, but there's no mistaking her dissatisfaction with Gould's memoir as a memoir, which she finds glib where it should be most probing. "Gould is a member of a generation that has grown up confusing irony with tragedy, nonchalance with acceptance, a pose with poise, self-dramatization with self-awareness," Cox writes. "Gould is special, she is talented, but there is something hugely interesting, as well as disturbing, about the generation she represents and its ability to narrate its experiences without understanding them."
Candor is not the problem, but to reveal something—cheating on your boyfriend, your feelings about bums—is not the same thing as a revelation. Gould has, in fact, piled up experiences as though in the pages of a novel; she's just left the main character incomplete ... While she may have felt the compulsion of narrative, her book is more like an assembly of anecdotes, the diary of a smart young woman collecting experiences in New York as though they were shoes, or trucker hats, or back issues of Vice magazine... nothing that would leave a lasting impression.
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