On my blog today, guest reviewer Mandie takes a look at the book ‘How To Murder Your Life’ by Cat Marnell. Over to you Mandie.
Official Book Blurb
‘I was twenty-six years old and an associate beauty editor at Lucky, one of the top fashion magazines in America. That’s all that most people knew about me. But beneath the surface, I was full of secrets: I was a drug addict, for one. A pillhead. I was also an alcoholic-in-training who guzzled warm Veuve Clicquot after work alone in my boss’s office with the door closed; a conniving and manipulative uptown doctor-shopper; a salami-and-provolone-puking bulimic who spent a hundred dollars a day on binge foods when things got bad (and they got bad often); a weepy,wobbly, wildly hallucination-prone insomniac; a tweaky self-mutilator; a slutty and self-loathing downtown party girl; and – perhaps most of all – a lonely weirdo. But, you know, I had access to some really fantastic self-tanner.‘
By the age of 15, Cat Marnell longed to work in the glamorous world of women’s magazines – but was also addicted to the ADHD meds prescribed by her father. Within 10 years she was living it up in New York as a beauty editor at Condé Nast, with a talent for ‘doctor-shopping’ that secured her a never-ending supply of prescriptions. Her life had become a twisted merry-go-round of parties and pills at night, while she struggled to hold down her high-profile job during the day.
Witty, magnetic and penetrating – prompting comparisons to Brett Easton Ellis and Charles Bukowski – Cat Marnell reveals essential truths about her generation, brilliantly uncovering the many aspects of being an addict with pin-sharp humour and beguiling style.
How to Murder your Life by Cat Marnell is a memoir of her life so far.
At the age of 15, Cat Marnell unknowingly set out to murder her life. After a privileged yet emotionally-starved childhood in Washington, she became hooked on ADHD medication provided by her psychiatrist father. This led to a dependence on Xanax and other prescription drugs at boarding school, and she experimented with cocaine, ecstasy… whatever came her way. By 26 she was a talented ‘doctor shopper’ who manipulated Upper East Side psychiatrists into giving her never-ending prescriptions; her life had become a twisted merry-go-round of parties and pills at night, and trying to hold down a high profile job at Condé Naste during the day..
Cat comes from a good background but is diagnosed as having ADHD… that is when the problems start. She gets hooked on the medication given to her and it is not long before she is convincing her father to prescribe more and more drugs. Once at boarding school she then gets hooked on any other drugs she can get her hands on. Eventually she is expelled when she becomes pregnant and her life doesn’t seem to get any better from then on.
Eventually she finds herself in New York working in the fashion magazine industry, still hooked on drugs but now also partying and drinking. Over her career she seems to have some very understanding bosses who whilst don’t totally turn a blind eye to her antics or drug taking (they do arrange for her to go into rehab), don’t seem to really make her take responsibility for her actions either.
I will admit that I have had a bit of trouble writing a review on this book and it has taken me a while to decide what I wanted to say. Whilst the parent in me would dearly love to boot the author up the backside for clearly being an idiot for what she has done in her life (not that it really seems to have done her much harm career wise) I can’t actually fault the book or the way it was written.
If I am honest then as far as I am concerned there is nothing to like about Cat Mansell other than her brutal honesty about the things she has done with her life so far. She shines a light on how easy it can be to “shop” for prescription drugs from registering with several doctors to making sure that prescriptions are picked up from different places so as not to arouse suspicion. To some extent the blame for the way her life has turned out should be thrown to her parents who seemed quite content to prescribe her drugs during her childhood if it meant some of her behavioural problems went away rather than talking with their daughter and trying to work things out (her father was a psychiatrist)
There are several instances in the book she refers to events with a caveat of either “more on that later” or “that’s for another time” so I can only assume at some point Cat intends to follow up with a further instalment of her messed up life and if I am honest I would probably read it just to see what happened next.
This book does not come with a happy ending of look at me, look what I did and how I have overcome it all. What it does have is an honest insight to Cat’s life on drugs. It charts the high’s (medicinal and career) and lows without apology. It will make you mad at the chances she has been given and thrown away and the fact that by the end of it she is still taking drugs – despite 2 overdoses and by her own admission she considers herself a functional drug addict who has managed to cut back on the types of drugs she is taking.
After I first read it I only gave it 3 stars as I was angry that Cat did not seem to have really learnt anything but after time away (and a chat with my sister) here I am 2 weeks later changing the review to 4 stars and putting pen to paper (or fingers to keyboard). Any book which leaves me this angry still, is a pretty well written book.
My thanks to Ebury Press and NetGalley for providing the arc of ‘How to Murder Your Life’ which is available from the following retailers: