This book was recommended too me by Isabel Costello following a hibiscus margarita and a conversation about female satirists.
Eat My Heart Out is a satire of our narcissistic, hedonistic, post-post-feminist world. It centres upon Ann-Marie an anti-heroine in her early twenties who, after suffering a mental breakdown and walking out of her finals at Cambridge, is trying to find her way in the world in London.
Ann-Marie’s voice is startling and unique. Her journey allows Pilger to lampoon a whole host of targets, including burlesque dancing, reality TV, contemporary art, academic feminism, hipsters, class, wealth, privilege and the baby boomers. Ann-Marie is misunderstood, abused, and taken advantage of by all around her. She resolutely refuses to take control of her own life, and instead favours the naive optimism of a quick fix in the form of ‘sweet love!’ Surely a hangover from popular culture’s happy ever after? The reader is left with the feeling that everyone, including themselves, want to make Ann-Marie into something else. To be the sculptor of her life. Too control her. Ann-Marie rebels kicking and screaming against all, even when she herself doesn’t know what it is that she wants.
Eat My Heart Out is a bleak, shocking, and, in places, repulsive tale, it is also very, very funny. The detached and grotesquely comic sex scenes remind me of those in Lena Dunham’s Girls. Despite occasionally reading like a lurid fantastical novel, the familiarity of the characters and situations in Eat My Heart Out leave it routed, unnervingly, in reality. A dark comedy for the cynical.
Eat My Heart Out, Zoe Pilger: A raw and meaty 4/5
Coco Chanel was perhaps not a nice woman. There are rumours of an abandoned child, and accusations about Nazi collaboration. Murky episodes that may or may not have been vital to her survival. But then the world already had plenty of nice women. Coco was different. She was a woman who challenged the status quo.
All too often when we think of Coco Chanel we think of boucle suits, pearls, and Karl Lagerfeld at the helm of the multinational Uber brand that carries her name. All of these things are part of her legacy, but she was also instrumental in liberating women. The Belle Époque era, when Coco started out as a seamstress, saw women constrained, restrained and weighed down by crinolines and whalebone corsets. Just as they had been for most of history. Coco thought this was nonsense, opting instead to dress like a Tom Boy.
Through Coco’s designs, often based on her own style, she pioneered: the discarding of corsets, women wearing trousers, and women cutting their hair short. Those more used to the current freedoms of expression we enjoy may view these as a trifling list of trends in the ever-changing game of fashion, but they signified monumental social change. They revolutionised the way women dressed. They revolutionised the way women were seen. They revolutionised the way women saw themselves.
Coco herself achieved something during her lifetime that was beyond most of her femal contempories’ grasp: she was a businesswoman. Financially independent. Unfettered. Her life spans a period in history when women were still viewed predominantly as ‘only’ wives and mothers. Mere decoration for a man’s arm. Coco helped free women from the shackles of society’s expectations. She gave women the (literal) freedom to run, jump and stride forwards. Those aren’t just a pair of slacks and a stripy jumper she’s wearing, they’re a political statement.
Happy Birthday, Coco.
Credit: Coco Chanel with dog from Baudot, Francois. A Century of Fashion London: Thames & Hudson, 1999.
Here is a link to the piece I wrote about male reactions to seeing a woman driving a Porsche for The Vagenda: http://vagendamag.blogspot.co.uk/2012/09/top-leer.html
And here is the poem I penned which inspired the piece:
Ode To Driving A Porsche, or What Rhymes With Penis?
I drive a Porsche, a Boxster, a soft top. I know, I’m a tit. If I was a character in Midsomer Murders I’d be the flash bleeder that gets it. When I pull up at the lights some men do a double take; they grip their steering wheel, they grip their handbrake. ‘That can’t be a woman behind the wheel,’ they sneer, they hiss. They don’t see a sports car; they see me driving a giant penis.
Is this a little bit of sexism, a bit of misogyny? Don’t tell me a speedy car isn’t for the likes of little ol’ me. Don’t rev your engine, or cut me up, I’m not looking in my mirror to check my make-up. No, I don’t want a bigger boot to store my shopping in, And yes, I understand about the fuel-injection engine. Your banter is totes hilarious, you’re so very sharp; Yes, I am a girl, and yes I can parallel park.
I know you’d rather I drive a nice hatchback, a nice 1.2 litre, with room for the nice kids in the back. Birds have a car; lads own a competitive machine. My vehicle’s emasculated you, and now you’re being obscene. Are you suggesting women can’t drive fast because we have vaginas? Women accelerate in rallies, F1 cars, fighter planes and airliners. You drive a Fiat Panda, all covered in rust; watch my giant penis go, and eat my liberated dust.
Blogging. It’s all a bit of nonsense, right? Nobody reads a blog unless it’s really good. And how do you start writing a blog, which currently doesn’t exist, and make it a ‘really good blog’ instantly? It’s mind blogling. I shouldn’t start with the puns. Blog off. Blogging on. To blog, or not to blog, that is the predictable question.
It’s all been done before. I’m too late. It’s enough to give me bloggers block, or webpage fright. I’m writing something that nobody will read. I’m a post-blog existentialist before I’ve begun. Is blogging to no audience the same as talking to yourself? My Gran said that was the first sign of madness. The second is probably tweeting. Least if no one’s reading my blog I won’t have to check my spelling.
But that’s defeatist. I can do this. I can conquer the blog. I googled blogging tips. “The best thing to do is write passionately and try to provide meaningful, useful information,” according to this article: http://weblogs.about.com/od/writingablog/qt/The-Secrets-Of-Blog-Post-Length.htm. I confess I didn’t read any further than that quote, I was too busy trying to think of something meaningful and useful I could impart. I’m still thinking. Passionate though, passionate I can do.
“Passionate” is the word people use to politely describe me after I’ve drunkenly ranted at them about an issue. They mean shout-y. Or aggressive. Or really, really loud. All of which I’m re-branding right now into: “passionate”. I own passionate. I can totally work passionate.
So what am I passionate about? That’s the key to a really good blog. You write about your passion: fashion, feminism, food, books, those small china thimbles with cats painted on them. Whatever. Then fellow passionate people flock to your blog and ‘pash’ over it (like teens do on Auzzie Soaps. It involves tongues.). Easy.
Except I don’t have one all consuming passion. I get distracted. I am a goldfish with wifi. I am a butterfly flitting from one colourful idea to the next. Given enough wine I could be passionate about any of the things I listed above, except the china cat thimbles. Sorry.
My passion cannot be contained to one area. I have an excess of passion. I’ve just been waiting for the right outlet. The blog may not be read by anyone, but least I know now what it’s going to be used for. Pash away.