Sep 03, 2019 | By Jane Boddy
At WGSN Insider, our required reading section is where we spotlight the coolest new reads, from exciting indie magazines to must-read books.
Last week a preview copy of Cat Marnell’s memoir How to Murder Your Life dropped on our desk, and we immediately read the thing cover to cover. Disclaimer: Devil Wears Prada this is not. This is a tale of the bad girl of New York’s media, who rose to fame at the now defunct Lucky Magazine as a beauty editor, before becoming better known for her drug use, and her drug friendly beauty reporting at xojane.com (there’s a section in the book where she pretended to snort bath salts for a feature).
So why is this a required read? Well it’s must for anyone who has ever dreamt of working for glossy women’s magazines in the epicenter of magazine land, New York City. While Cat is best known for her addiction, the secondary storyline is the one about her ambition, to go from making collages and mini magazines in her bedroom as a kid, to working her way up to being a beauty editor at Lucky magazine, a huge Conde Nast title before it shuttered. She even records the many times she met Anna Wintour.
As you read it, you are rooting for Cat, and her ambition to beat her addiction, but unfortunately it doesn’t and as a result she has some really bad life experiences, ends up in rehab a number of times, as well as being robbed a number of times by so-called friends, who were also serious drug addicts.
It’s not all bad news though, thanks to her tone and her skill for storytelling there are some funny moments in the book of the pre-Internet world of publishing (she couldn’t work out how to turn on her Mac computer and her Blackberry phone alarm forgot to go off), and tales of what it’s really like to work for a glamourous Conde Nast title in terms of all the free gifts “MAC Cosmetics, Gucci bags”… and even “a Hermes riding crop”.
And while we don’t want to give away the ending, Cat seems to be in the best health of her life so far now (she confesses that her addiction is still a huge part of her life, but she’s definitely doing better than when she was in the midst of the worst throes of her addiction).
This is an interesting tale about toxic life in New York, big dreams, big goals and fighting to be happy.
How to Murder Your Life by Cat Marnell is published by Simon and Schuster and released on January 31, 2017.
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