ADDENDUM 30/06/2014: Please note that I was young and impressionable when I wrote this review. Now, older and wiser, my opinion of Caitlin Moran has changed somewhat. Since Moranthology was published and I have read more of her work as well as more of the things she has said in the press, I have come to the conclusion that she is not as ‘cool’ as I once thought she was. While undoubtedly witty and a good writer, her work has stagnated greatly and her work has become increasingly self-centred. Since publishing How To Be A Woman she has become a bit of a one trick pony, as her 2014 book How To Build A Girl has demonstrated. I would never read her books now and I don’t have much time for her. She is good as a columnist, but I think she has been given too much free reign to try and convince everyone to see the world as she does. Sorry Caitlin. One less member of your fan club.
You’ll know who Caitlin Moran is (if you don’t, where have you been?!). You might also know that I think she’s pretty damn cool. When I actually remember to buy the paper I always love reading her column and she is basically the main reason why I resent The Times online paywall. Other than that, I’m not that fussed. I’ll read the Guardian online instead.
Anyway, Moran has been voted best columnist, best interviewer, best generally everything that she does in recent years. In 2011 she published her first book, How To Be A Woman, which was ridiculously successful over here and is currently rising to the same level of popularity in the big old United States. I read it soon after it came out, out of a love for Moran but also a curiosity about what she’s be like to read for more than a page in a magazine. Turns out she was pretty damn good. I read the book quite quickly and had to go back and reread some bits to fully absorb them – something I really recommend. Moran talks quite fast.
Now here comes Moranthology, a collection (anthology – geddit?) of her columns for The Times. I would say from… to… but annoyingly there are no specific dates in this book apart from the year being mentioned now and again. That’s one thing I would have liked, Ebury/Caitlin. Otherwise this is a joyful and sometimes emotional journey through the last few years of Moran’s columns. She covers TV, politics, music, family life, childhood, marriage, fame, movies, feminism; and she calls David Cameron a ‘C-3PO made of ham’ and Boris Johnson a ‘posh albino fanny-hound’. All with a good sense of humour, a positive outlook, and witty quips. Very good.
After reading all these columns together, it seems to me that Moran has reached a point in her life that many would like to reach, regardless of age. She has a steady home life and career, and seems happy; but she is also able to look back on her life without dissolving into an emotional wreck, or being bitter about things. The same when considering today’s world. There are some pretty crappy things in life, but she approaches them all with a healthy, positive attitude. She also seems quite proactive, in that she doesn’t just have a moan, she offers a well thought out opinion, and where possible a solution too (although when discussing the Occupy movement she embraces the fact that the act of protest does not by default attempt to offer answers to a problem – it simply demands them).
Caitlin Moran is unendingly modest. Despite her many awards for her work, she is quick to point out the number of times she has screwed up or embarrassed herself in front of someone important. She is also very sweet and gracious when interviewing people she admires, but still bold enough to ask what she really wants to know. I’m not a Rolling Stones fan, but I still really enjoyed her interview with Keith Richards, and found it interesting. That’s how good she is.
I could spend a long time telling you about all the great bits in this book. Instead, I suggest you read it for yourself. If you have liked any of Moran’s writing before, you will love Moranthology. It’s like spending a weekend with her. Also, if you haven’t read How To Be A Woman, read it now, even if you’re a man.
Moranthology was published in the UK on 13th September 2012 by Ebury Publishing, part of the Random House Group.