All in the way you laugh
Caitlin Moran – How To Be A Woman
( Harper nial)
It’s a sad thing that Moran is a relative unknown in New Zealand.
Growing up an anglophile music fanatic as I did, I fell in love with her pithy, acerbic and funny writing in late lamented music mag, Melody Maker, during the late 80s and 90s.
Had I known then that she was just a teenager, like me, I would have been even more impressed – and perhaps a little jealous. Moran started as a fulltime member of the Melody Maker staff when she was just 16.
More than a youthful protege, Moran is the product of a strange and somehow liberating childhood. Overweight, besieged by local bullies and her massive family, she intellectually raised herself by retreating into books and hanging out with the big kids of music journalism.
How To Be A Woman is part memoir of this life, part exploration of how she created herself through experience without a female role model – her mother had six children to care for, Moran was the eldest – and part exaltation of the role feminism played in all of that.
Ruthlessly funny – her description of leaving her horrible user of a boyfriend while out of her gourd on drugs and with her cynical, misanthropic and much beloved younger sister in tow is both
Peren- cringingly familiar and knicker-wettingly hilarious – How To Be A Woman is a gleeful account of a life lived in ignorance of the ‘‘rules’’ by which so many women are hemmed in.
As Moran details the milestones of her life – the titles of her chapters include; I Am Fat!, I Encounter Some Sexism!, I Fall in Love! – She answers the big questions that may plague many modern women. Why are we supposed to get brazilians? Why does your bra hurt? Why the hell are we supposed to enjoy strip joints all of a sudden?
She tackles these sad old sexism hangovers not by shouting, but by laughing in their haggard faces. That’s the best answer, she says, to ridding ourselves of them for good.
And as I guffaw through stories of her terrible wedding, wonderful marriage and incredible career I can’t help but agree. Moran makes being a modern woman look easy. It’s all in the way you laugh.
M & C Saatchi - Brutal Simplicity of Thought (Ebury Press) In the simplest terms, advertising masterminds Maurice and Charles Saatchi’s Brutal Simplicity of Thought is a celebration of the perfect idea.
Originally the training manual for the Saatchi & Saatchi agency, the book delights in moments when ‘‘ Brutal Simplicity of Thought changed the world, and proved nothing is impossible’’.
From the bicycle – which supported the emancipation of women – to the creation of the elevator which made high-rise building and New York possible, it details moments of inspiration so simple they seem impossibly complex.
‘‘How do you move an ostrich?’’ the book asks. The image of an ostrich with a sock on its head answers from the opposite page.
Maurice Saatchi called Brutal Simplicity of Thought his ‘‘manual for anyone who wants to change the world’’.
If you examine the most simple of ideas you will whittle your thoughts down to their essence. The book is a distillation of the Saatchi advertising way: How do you sell an idea? How do you change a point of view? How do you solve this problem?
How do you quantify and explain the brutal simplicity of thought? For the Saatchis, it is to deconstruct the ideas behind objects we use every day, or ones so obscure we’d never even begin to think about. Things that have changed our lives without our even realising it. The benchmark of the simple – flush toilets, bicycles, elevators and ice cream cones.
The manner in which they are presented – a bold, seemingly obscure question with the most obvious of answers next to them – frees your mind to think outside the box. This book will change the way you see everything, the Saatchis say. And perhaps they are onto something.