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/ by Beth Wareham
A well-known fact about Chelsea is that she likes to pee on her friends. She entices them into her shower or quietly dog-paddles up behind them in a pool and releases a yellowy bubble that envelopes her victim. It’s a kind of warm liquid Hollywood fairy-dust, Chelsea’s pee.
I have no idea why she does this. I wasn’t an insider. I was part of Chelsea’s entourage’s entourage, a self-confessed mangy lot. My group never had a chance of getting peed on directly; we could only go to her pool when she wasn’t home.
One strange day, one of Chelsea’s inner most circles got mixed up with the outer most circle and asked if I wanted to see her bedroom.
Huge, orderly and airy, she had a California King that didn’t look any more used than any other California King I’d seen. (Have you seen the dent in the middle of Rhianna’s?) The room was weirdly peaceful. I don’t remember a television screen of any kind.
What I remember confounds me to this day. It wasn’t the bedroom of a celebrity at all; it was the bedroom of a writer. One entire wall was floor to ceiling bookshelves, all stuffed, with everything from architecture to art to
politics. The range was stunning.
Funny girls write great books. They understand detail. They choose really interesting detail. And as both Chelsea and Tina Fey become Netflix regulars, let’s see what “on demand” does to their creativity.
I can’t wait.
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In 2000, Dave Eggers published a book called Heartbreaking Work of Staggering Genius. And it was. He was. He IS. I remember the scenes of flick-fights with his little brother Toph. He was raising the kid; their parents had died. Domestic tragedy and wild moody humor punctuate the book, feeling exactly like the ride of grief. I love that book.
For his first book tour – as a pretty much not-known guy – Eggers did a reading tour across country that featured regular folk in the place of Lena Dunham’s fabulous friends who will join her in a kind of stand up comedy/performance/discussion/ticket-price-includes-hardcover book event.
Eggers didn’t have fabulous friends. Or if he did, he wasn’t inviting them on his book tour. Instead, he invited local firefighters to do a demonstration of stop, drop and roll. Were there Shriners on mini-bikes blowing through the bookstore as well? I can’t remember the details, but they were all regular folk and it was funny and hip and it worked. He even put his editor’s phone number in the book and recommended every reader call it. We loved that.
Eggers came out of the gate a fully-formed, naturally great writer. His subjects are intimate and global at the same time. I loved his circus tour and think about it still.
Lena Dunham’s arc as a writer is yet to be seen. I know her circus tour will sell tons of books and be way fun, but will it forward Lena’s life as a writer? Doubtful. That happens one on one, with the reader.
Here goes the idiotic “publishing thing” again. A marketing demographic – in this case, young people from the ages of 18 – 22 – is being hijacked as a “genre” for fiction. They call it “new Adult.” If that doesn’t make you, presumably an adult, run and woof into a trash can, I don’t know what will.
Publisher’s Weekly even had a podcast, or something. Young editors, not conversant in how the internet works or in fact their own competition – crowed about this new genre that would step in where chick lit failed.
Here are the words I have for “new Adult” aficionados and the editors and writers who fall for this malarky. You have some shoes to fill:
1. Jane Austen
2. Mark Twain (remember Huck Finn? You read it? In school, maybe?)
3. F Scott Fitzgerald (lyrics by Jay-Z)
4. Charlotte Bronte
5. William Faulkner (Quentin wasn’t very old, kids)
6. Dostoyevsky (You best get off that toilet and write, Lena!)
7. Carson McCullers
“New adult” is a selling term that I should never have heard of. It’s a term that tells you what website to promote a book on.
Do NOT turn your talented authors into writers churning out text for a marketing term. You put them in a ghetto where those who define themselves as “adult” will never find them. For shame.
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