Saturday, May 14, 2016

Moranifesto, by Caitlin Moran

Staff review by Chris Saliba

This new collection of columns from British feminist and humourist Caitlin Moran delivers the goods: funny, insightful and thought provoking.

Collected newspaper columns can make for dodgy, cash-in books. The writing usually seems stale and out-of-date, covering news events that have come and gone. Happily this is not the case with Caitlin Moran. Her writing is endlessly inspiring, funny, energetic, good-natured and thought provoking. No wonder she has such a hard core fan base.

While Moranifesto in the main consists of Moran's work as a columnist, with the odd feature thrown in, she has added some thought provoking new essays. Each column is also prefaced with a paragraph or two of additional comments, helping give the collection a more cohesive feel. The book is set out in three main parts, the first dealing with contemporary issues, the second feminism and the third, which is called “The Future”, being a mixed goody bag of topics.

So, what's in Moranfiesto exactly? Moran is one of those writers that can turn absolutely any experience into a column and make it entertaining to boot. My favourite was one about an unbelievably lousy bus tour of New York. “Generally, I'm a fan of the 'bad tour guide' genre,” Moran cheerfully writes, before going on to describe her bad tempered tour guide. When it starts pouring with rain he berates his travelling group, “Everybody, everybody – thanks very much for hauling me out here during a thunderstorm. I really appreciate it.” Another column is devoted to her obsession with the pop song, “Get Lucky”.

That's the light stuff. Down a bit from these fluffy meringue peaks are TV reviews (the one devoted to the Queen's Jubilee celebrations is a comic tour de force), gushing actor interviews and musings about fame. Then there is the more serious stuff, which makes up the bulk of Moranifesto: life on welfare, the Cameron Government, the blinkered vision of the rich, the importance of reading, terrorist attacks, global warming, women in power, sexist TV shows, Hillary Clinton, women and the Internet, motherhood. That's just a sample. The list goes on. Moran has an insatiable appetite and broad interests.

Caitlin Moran is a joy to read because she's so enthusiastic, life affirming, positive, vulnerable and honest. She's also hilarious – a great entertainer. Moran’s style reminds one of those great comic-philosophical lifeforce characters, Shakespeare's Falstaff and Chaucer's Wife of Bath. You could also throw in some Dickensian exuberance into the mix. Moran embraces life, looks for the upside in everything and is willing to make mistakes, to play the fool (one column, “My Muppet Face”, explains why she insists on pulling faces when photographed).

A wild, exhilarating ride of a book.

Moranifesto, by Caitlin Moran. Published by Ebury Press. ISBN: 9780091949051  RRP: $35