"Alana Massey's prose is to brutal honesty what a mandolin is to a butter knife: she's sharper; she slices thinner; she shows the cross-section of a truth so deftly--so powerfully and cannily--it's hard to look away, and hard not to feel that something has shifted in you for having read her."--Leslie Jamison, New York Times bestselling author of The Empathy Exams
From columnist and critic Alana Massey, a collection of essays examining the intersection of the personal with pop culture through the lives of pivotal female figures--from Sylvia Plath to Britney Spears--in the spirit of Chuck Klosterman, with the heart of a true fan.
Mixing Didion's affected cool with moments of giddy celebrity worship, Massey examines the lives of the women who reflect our greatest aspirations and darkest fears back onto us. These essays are personal without being confessional and clever in a way that invites readers into the joke. A cultural critique and a finely wrought fan letter, interwoven with stories that are achingly personal, ALL THE LIVES I WANT is also an exploration of mental illness, the sex industry, and the dangers of loving too hard. But it is, above all, a paean to the celebrities who have shaped a generation of women--from Scarlett Johansson to Amber Rose, Lil' Kim, Anjelica Huston, Lana Del Rey, Anna Nicole Smith and many more. These reflections aim to reimagine these women's legacies, and in the process, teach us new ways of forgiving ourselves.
Massey, a columnist for New York magazine's "The Cut," analyzes a number of topics including female anger, destructive romances, weight and body issues, and society's treatment of creative intelligent women through pop culture in her debut, a collection of essays. Though Massey discusses celebrities she doesn't personally know, she writes about them with intimacy, drawing connections between their lives and her own: Mary-Kate and Ashley Olsen attended NYU at the same time Massey was adjusting to the college's frenetic environment, and the media's sexist portrayals of Courtney Love reflect Massey's experience with misogyny. The chapter on writer Sylvia Plath seems out of place in a book focused on rock and roll and reality television celebrity, and more space could have been devoted to women rappers' artistry as well as their beefs, but this book reminds readers how celebrities' seemingly dazzling lives can provide insight into their own.