Read Receipts: How to Murder Your Life

When you grow up reading beauty mags in all their glossy glory, you get accustomed to the blogger voice. In the early 2000’s, anyway. “You guys,” it calls to you, an accessible siren song. Cat Marnell’s How to Murder Your Life is a long “you guys,” a vibrant retelling of what the hell happened last night, if last night were ten years long.

I read somewhere that the book was optioned as a movie before it was even written, and if that fact is wrong, it absolutely should be. Marnell’s strength is in her imagery. There’s blood dripping out of her nose and into her psycho friend Marco’s mouth. There’s the lush green private school where she escapes her ruddy, grey parents’ basement. From one institution to another — rehab, school, Conde Nast, rehab again — Cat creates a world more fit for the screen than a magazine. It’s massive.

There’s a weird guilt I feel reading the book, like I’m gorging on someone’s experiences. I binge-read it, of course. But it’s not exploitative, or at least it doesn’t feel that way. Cat sings the praises of her bosses, graffiti writing club friends, Artie Lang, and even her strict and punishing Dad. She writes in that enthusiastic blogger voice about everyone, she invented it. There’s no room for negative reviews.

Cat finds sympathy for everyone, and fortunately for herself. She writes candidly about her abortion, her medications, her doctor shopping, her bulimia. It feels good to hear a woman talk about ‘bad’ things, doing them. Experiencing them and deciding about them, figuring out what works and why and how. The book is dedicated to party girls, but it’s a sobering look at how you make a life.

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