Thank You to Simon and Schuster for providing me with an advanced copy of Cat Marnell’s memoir, How to Murder Your Life, in exchange for an honest review.
PLOT– Cat Marnell has built a prestigious journalism career as a beauty editor under industry heavy-weights such as, Jean Godfrey June and Jane Pratt. Marnell’s talent soon becomes overshadowed by her problems; anorexia and a crippling drug addiction.
LIKE – Cat Marnell’s perfectly titled memoir, How to Murder Your Life, is like watching a train crash in slow motion. I quite honestly have never read a memoir, where the author was such a mess. Beginning as a teenager in boarding school, her drug addiction, alcoholism, and eating disorder have continued for over a decade. Marnell’s addiction started with Adderall, quickly expanding to whatever she could get her hands on. As a result of her addiction, she gets involved with abusive men, putting herself in risky situations. It’s a marvel that she has not died or become seriously injured. How to Murder Your Life is not a reflective memoir of someone who is now sober, Marnell admits that she relapsed while writing this book, and although she is trying to keep her sobriety, she confesses that she expects to slip up again.
You’d expect How to Murder Your Life, to be messy and incoherent, mirroring Marnell’s lifestyle, but it isn’t at all. Marnell is a talented writer and a hard worker, which is how she managed to keep jobs at prestigious magazines like, Lucky, for as long as she did. She admits that she has been given more chances and opportunities than she probably deserves, an attitude that manages to shine above her selfish behavior while in the thick of addiction. One of biggest take-aways is Marnell comes across as down-to-earth and likable. She truly loves her job at Conde Nast, she loves writing and editing. She cares about the people she has worked with, and has kind words for her previous employers. She feels guilty for screwing up. There is a great deal of appreciation for her life, which makes it even more difficult to watch her destroy it.
The bulimia and drug use are terrible, but I found the chapters with her “best friend” Marco, the most difficult to read. Marco is abusive and dangerous, yet Marnell keeps allowing him back into her life. I felt my heart race for the imminent danger, every time Marco appeared in the story. He’s despicable.
Marnell has a distinctive voice, filled with humor and pop-culture references. How to Murder Your Life, reads as if Marnell is sitting in the room with you, throwing back shots, and tell you her story. She offers an insiders perspective into the magazine and fashion industries, something I found fascinating. Marnell is a colorful personality with a crazy life to share. I thought it was outrageous that she made a name for herself as a “Dirty Beauty” blogger, that her not-so-squeaky clean image was actually a way for her to fill a niche. Her themes made me think of fashion in the mid-90’s, when the “Heroin Chic” was all of the rage. It’s almost unbelievable how unhealthy lifestyles become fashionable, however, I had to admire Marnell for capitalizing on this trend. She has become a celebrity, perhaps to her own detriment.
DISLIKE– It was difficult reading all of this, knowing that Marnell doesn’t feel stable in her recovery. I felt worried enough for her to look her up on social media. She has a big talent and I hope that she can keep herself safe. I had mixed emotions about reviewing this book and giving attention to Marnell’s deeply troubled life, especially when she is still unstable.
RECOMMEND– Yes. How to Murder Your Life is sure to be one of the most talked about memoirs of 2017.