Nonfiction November: Know My Name

Yes, I know it’s no longer November, but I wanted to file this book still under the #nonfictionnovember reading project (was that hashtag even a thing, by the way?). It’s a recent memoir by Chanel Miller, and given various, ongoing international developments its topic has sort of been making the rounds in the press, so I thought it deserved to be introduced here.

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Shine On November

Twas a busy weekend for royal watchers. Third season of The Crown aired on Sunday and Prince Andrew, the bestie of the late pedophile Epstein, gave an interview to the BBC on Saturday in which he discussed his sordid life in the most unfortunately obnoxious manner. It was so bad it was really bad. But let’s not forget it is Meghan Markle who will bring down the royal family and everything we hold dear, because she has the habit of cradling her tummy and that, dear people, is fucking disgusting.

(Olivia Colman and Helena Bonham Carter were both fabulous in The Crown. The third season is chock-full of amazing outfits and accessories, so worthy of a binge if only for that.)

In other news, I can report back that Hannah Gadsby’s Douglas was fabulous (she’s currently touring, but might have already left Europe) and if you have the chance to see her live, go for it. Otherwise indulge in Nanette on Netflix (Douglas will follow).

The Marie Antoinette exhibition in Paris was also interesting, but I was a bit disappointed with how little merch they had on display. I am fully aware of the historical fact that the republicans who killed her probably weren’t all that sentimental about safeguarding her dresses and such, but all the same. Definitely worth a visit if you’re in Paris.

I am doing excellent progress with #nonfictionnovember, but realised that my reading list has been mainly very grim, which on the other hand pairs beautifully with the darkness and general shitness. I ordered a short reading list inspired by the Refinery29 list on a whim, and have been very pleased. Here it is for your reference:

  • Jenny Slate: Little Weirds. Light, snacky essays by stand up comedian, actress and children’s author Slate.
  • Carmen Maria Machado: In the Dream House. I loved Machado’s short story collection “Her Body, and Other Parties”, so wanted to give her latest memoir a go as well. It’s a dark story about a relationship gone much sour, but much more than that, and also she’s a brilliantly innovative writer.
  • Lisa Jewell: The Family Upstairs. Almost a bit like reading Dan Brown, but not quite. I’m not usually a reader of blockbuster thrillers, but here we are. Rotting corpses, dark secrets, posh London neighbourhood, there you go.
  • Lindy West: The Witches Are Coming. Hilarious feminist essays by the author of Shrill. West attended a Goop-seminar in Los Angeles as part of her research, and I laughed out loud when I was reading her report from the health and wellness expo. She writes how Gwyneth Paltrow‘s glow was such that she could only be described as a “radioactive swan”. West decided to keep up the Goop-advise after the expo, and “accurately followed Gwyneth’s recipe for avocado smoothies”, which was not a particular success. “As I recall it, this mixture could give diarrhea an existential crisis”.
  • Chanel Miller: Know My Name. I will come back to this book as I think it deserves its own post.

Other than that, I have been enjoying my new, limited edition NARS lipstick, which celebrates the infamous Studio 54 nightclub and the related shenanigans. It comes in a glitter case, is guaranteed NARS-quality, and I wear it daily, despite the fact that my life literally could not be further away from a happening, glittering club-scene (I reckon this to be a temporary glitch in my otherwise very happening life, so I’m all good.)

Nonfiction November: Catch and Kill

East-Coast wunderkind (presidential speechwriter, academic whiz-kid, award-winning investigative journalist all before turning 30 years) Ronan Farrow made a scoop of his life about Harvey Weinstein in The New Yorker in 2017. Actually, many journalists tried the same, but were intimidated during the process up to the point when was easier just to drop the story.

Unsurprisingly there’s a book out about the making of the Weinstein-article. The book is called Catch and Kill, a nod to a phrase used in journalism when a rumour or a negative story needs to be caught early enough, so that it can be killed ie. that it does not get aired.

Farrow was employed by the NBC when he started investigating leads that all pointed to multiple cases of sexual harassment by movie mogul Harvey Weinstein. There was no shortage of victim testimonies, many of which Farrow managed to get on the record. He had dynamite in his hands, and as his investigations advanced, things got stickier.

Farrow was getting the feeling that he was being followed, and that his phone was tapped. The NBC-management started to directly warn him to stop the story (they did this eight times). It became evident that NBC leadership was getting (and taking) orders directly from Weinstein, who absolutely did not need the story to see the light of day. Farrow didn’t cave in, and after a series of events, ended up giving the story to The New Yorker, which finally ran it (the following year The New Yorker was awarded the Pulitzer Prize for Public Services for Farrow’s story. Well played, NBC, well played).

Catch and Kill reads like a detective story, complete with Israeli spies, bribes, lawyers (oh, so many!) and hobnobbing between New York and Los Angeles. The freaky thing is that everything is true. Catch and Kill has been meticulously vetted and fact-checked before publication, if only because Weinstein’s trial is yet to start (scheduled to begin in January).

I listened to a podcast in which Farrow explained why the “making of” had to take the form of a traditional book. The process was lengthy, with many twists and turns. Much of the key evidence were emails and messages, which merited to be included, and would only make sense in a written form. The network around Weinstein and how systematically, almost automatically it was put in place at the snap of his fingers was far too vast to illustrate on a video or audio. Further, the victims’ stories make for harrowing read, and merit to be completely included.

While Catch and Kill is obviously a story about the Weinstein-case, towards the end includes other similar, relevant cases concerning big media-bosses and MIT Media Lab’s involvement with Jeffrey Epstein. While the Weinstein-allegations have been minutely pored over in most news outlets, Catch and Kill makes the additional point of showing how the rich and powerful continue to keep much of the media in their grip (a slightly related, if heavily glossed-over movie reference is The Post about Washington Post in the 70s).

Read Catch and Kill, it is an important zeitgeist-y take on believing the survivers. It is also both an ode and a testament to brave journalists, and the necessity and value of the freedom and independence of media. On a need to know basis, it shall be added for the record that Ronan Farrow is the son of Woody Allen and Mia Farrow (according to whom Ronan could apparently also be the son of Frank Sinatra, which, when comparing their pictures, seems to make terribly much sense) and has been fiercely defending his sister Dylan’s sexual assault allegations against Allen from the time she was 7 years. Ronan Farrow has cut any contacts with Woody Allen.

So Keanu Reeves Has a Lady Friend

The past week has been one of major significant events. 30th anniversary of the fall of the Berlin Wall, rappers having their adult daughters hymens checked for virginity, people dying in various catastrophes around the world, the usual. Nothing could have prepared the world for the shocker that Keanu Reeves served at LACMA Art and Film Gala last week, however.

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