My Misspent Youth
My Misspent Youth is an incisive collection that marked the start of a new millennium and became a cult classic, from the editor of Selfish, Shallow, and Self-Absorbed and the author of The Unspeakable
An essayist in the tradition of Joan Didion, Meghan Daum is one of the most celebrated nonfiction writers of her generation, widely recognized for her fresh, provocative approach with which she unearths the hidden fault lines in the American landscape.
From her well remembered New Yorker essays about the financial demands of big-city ambition and the ethereal, strangely old-fashioned allure of cyber-relationships to her dazzlingly hilarious riff in Harper's about musical passions that give way to middle-brow paraphernalia, Daum delves into the center of things while closely examining the detritus that spills out along the way. With precision and well-balanced irony, Daum implicates herself as readily as she does the targets that fascinate and horrify her.
Essay lovers can take heart. There's a new voice in the fray, and it belongs to a talented young writer. In this collection of (largely previously published) on-target analyses of American culture, Daum offers the disapproval of youth, leavened with pithy humor and harsh self-appraisal . In each essay, she sustains interest with a good story and pricks the reader's conscience with observations that reverberate personally, whether about the secret desires of Christian women or the stunning ease of accumulating debt while existing unluxuriously in New York City. Publishing veterans will be amused and chagrined to see their profession skewered in "Publishing and Other Near-Death Experiences"; and for a hard take on one's responsibility for mourning, there is the book's best work, "Variation on Grief." Daum's decidedly agnostic outlook sometimes makes for easy moral outs, and time may render her phrasings cute. While her main premise that many Americans live "not actual lives but simulations of lives... via the trinkets on our shelves" leaves room for disagreement, on the whole, readers will enjoy an edgy read.