Monday, July 21, 2014

Hearing women singing about themselves -- rather than men singing about women -- makes everything seem wonderfully clear, and possible

It's Monday again! That means it's time for another installment of Caitlin Moran's How To Build A Girl. Hooray!
Thank you Emily for hosting this readalong, and thank you Harper Collins for having Emily host this. Good times. Do you want to get in on this and preorder the book? Of course you do. Well you can get it here, so aren't you lucky.

One more thing before we get to the random thoughts/gifs, I am going to be WAY behind on commenting. I'm sorry in advance. It is wedding related and unavoidable but I shall be there to leave tons of comments like a week after everyone has already forgotten all about this post and is onto new thoughts.

When we last left Johanna it was under threat of death. Kinda. To quote Moran (and sorry this is a long one. I tried to cut it down but NO, I love it all)

I am thrilled by the idea of killing myself. It seems like such a gratifyingly noble thing to do. A monster has come to town--me--and there is only one hero who can kill it: me.
I'm not actually going to kill myself, of course. For starters, I suspect I might put up a struggle and fight dirty--perhaps biting--and secondly, I don't actually want to die. I don't want there to be a dead body on the bed, and it to be the end of everything. I don't want to not live.
I just...want to not be me anymore. Everything I am now is not working.

Who hasn't felt this way at some point, especially as a teenager? She continues to be hilarious and heartbreaking all at once, and I know I've said this a billion times but since it is still super accurate I will continue to repeat myself.

Johanna decides the thing to do is to create a new persona. Someone who didn't do an impassioned Scooby-Doo impression on live TV.

She lands on Dolly Wilde and begins to dress in all black. Lots of red lipstick, heavy eyeliner, the whole deal.
She attempts to ingratiate herself to the  goth kids in town, which includes her cousin Ali, but things don't go well. Johanna is too bubbly and sweet and enthusiastic to be goth, despite the wardrobe. But despite this set-back she does find her calling. Dolly's calling. She's going to be a music journalist.

I applaud her dedication because she is spending lots of time at the library studying music press and imagining what these albums she's been reading about sound like (and wanking to them because I HOPE you didn't expect the wanking to stop. Wanking).
I make myself giggle
She's found a radio station playing the indie-alternative music she's looking for. She is far more dedicated to this than I think I've been to anything, which is admittedly pretty sad for me. Which is probably why Johanna/Dolly manages an interview/gig with Disc & Music Echo. Hard work, man. It pays off.

I know we talked about how there are autobiographical moments in the first part of the book. Those continue on here to the actual interview Moran had with Melody Maker, what with the whole mimicking Annie-bit and, OK. That was a hilarious moment from Moran's own story and I did really like it and think it fits with something Johanna would do, but the fact that it was the EXACT same thing sort of took me out of the story a bit. I kept waiting for her to mention the lemon cake she brought.

BUT other than that (and really, I still like the story so it's cool) things go well for Johanna/Dolly. After that initial awkwardness that was honestly inevitable with her, she gets a job and assignments that actually pay! Things are looking good.

Of course there are still reminders about how hard things are at home. Kenny from the magazine calls her saying he hasn't heard from her in awhile and she can't tell him the reason she hasn't called is because no one can use the phone since they haven't paid the bill. When he offers her an assignment she'll need to travel for she panics as she tries to figure out how she'll ever pay to get to the show and the relief when Kenny mentions that she can expense the trip is palpable.

The show goes well and brought back ALL THE MEMORIES for me of seeing Catch-22 the first time at this seems stupid to call it a "club" but I suppose that's the most accurate description, when I was 14. Well done.

Johanna's career is going so swimmingly that, hey! why bother with school anymore? It's really just getting in the way of her being able to get her work done. Her parents are, understandably, not so much into the idea and there is a heartbreaking moment (because there are SO MANY OF THOSE) where Johanna thinks about the fact that her dad left school at 15 and she looks around the tattered house and thinks about how well that worked out for him. Her dad relents, maybe because he realizes if he argues with her about what a bad idea it is, it means he'll have to face the fact that it was a terrible idea when he did it as well.

This section ends with the news that Johanna will be meeting John Kite. I dunno who John Kite is, other than her cousin Ali did a drawing of him/Slash, but given that's where we're stopping, I assume this will be someone important. WE SHALL SEE!

Title quote from page 98

Moran, Caitlin. How To Build A Girl. Harper, 2014.