All in the way you laugh

Kapi-Mana News - - REVIEW -

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.

Kylie Klein-nixon

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.

Kylie Klein-nixon


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