An Appreciation of Cat Marnell
On Cat Marnell, an appreciation...
I had been looking for this article called ‘on the death of Whitney Houston’ for a long time, to no avail. I had given up after a while. Then, someone finally came through on Twitter and had emailed it across to me, it was as if I had finally copped some Dope. My mind was no longer scattered, I wasn’t so tense… After receiving this piece, I devoured it, eating up every single demented, sincere, honest, scary, raw word. It really was something else. Cat Marnell is something else, she is not for everyone but… can you tell me someone who is for everyone? I see her as the white privileged, beauty editor, hot mess ‘Hunter Thompson’. She takes no prisoners, says what she wants because that is what she is thinking and that is why she is simply fucking amazing. She would write about her drug binges, her comedowns, her asshole ‘friends’, that amazing HICCUP story in ‘HTMYL’ had me in hysterics as if I was actually watching it unfold, she has this… I don’t quite know how to explain it… She is just ridiculously talented with words and knows how to pull you in, pin you down and take you on a wild ride. I had read ‘How to Murder Your Life’ and as soon as I finished, I needed more! I don’t mean “Oh, I’d love to read more of her work when it’s about.” I meant Junky Business, I wanted more, and I wanted it now! So, I went hunting. Glad I did, I finally found a load of old articles that she had written for XO JANE, Devoured her VICE articles ‘Amphetamine Logic’ and then I put them all into an .epub file so that I had a book to read when I needed some serious ‘Fuck this, fuck you and fuck everyone else’ style reading… But, before I had read her Memoir/Addiction Book, whatever you want to call it, I had no interest in it. It didn’t look like a book for me. I literally judged a book (and its author) by its cover. To me, it sounded like ‘The Hills on Adderall’ and I just didn’t go for it. Until I did. As a male, reading a girl’s book which, let’s face it, this is a girl’s book, right? Beauty Editor, Fashion, her love for Pete Doherty (Irrelevant but she loves, Pete). But anyway… As a guy reading and loving everything Marnell does is a breath of fresh air. Why? I don’t know! All I know is I really understood her, the manic type prose in which I also write and no, I am not comparing myself to this force of talent. I am just saying that as someone with Hypomania and undiagnosed ADHD that reading her writings kind of calms me down and gives me hope that one day maybe I too can make it. Maybe…? I really identified with her struggle with her parents, early in the book, something I, still to this day, struggle with. That relationship with my mother, the ‘does this guy like, let alone love me’ with the old man. Maybe she is over that, which would be great, and I’d be very happy for her. But that, that is where I really identified with Cat (This is from HTMYL so things could and would have drastically changed for her) I also really understood her Work style/ethic, I found myself laughing, thinking to myself ‘Not just me then!’ and we do completely different things! But the one thing that really got me, and also had me inspired, is her drive and passion for what she wanted to do, and she got it! I was reading with a huge smile planted across my face! From being a kid making her own Zines to then becoming a Beauty Editor! This filled me with Positive Creativity, and I believe it is that that had me head over heels for Cat. I don’t know where I am taking this, I could take it in so many directions but if you get Marnell, you get Cat. With my hunt for Cats articles I had started to talk with, now a close friend, Colleen who, coincidentally, was also a Dopey fan as well as a Cat Marnell fan. We started to talk about Cat and her style and how downright amazing she is. I am glad I didn’t finish my hunt for the ‘Whitney Piece’ because without tweeting that, I wouldn’t have met Colleen. Which seems fitting to end my take on Marnell and hand it over to, Colleen.
Being a drug addict is hard, being a female drug addict can feel harder. Society loves to show strong male leads on television or in movies tangled up in alcoholism or drug addiction and the literary world is filled with addiction memoirs written by men. So, when I stumbled upon Cat Marnells book at my local library I was immediately drawn to it. The bright colors and bold text caught my eye, and when I read the title “How to murder your life” I knew I wanted to devour it. I was hooked from the start. The book read like a fashion/gossip rag mixed with grunge and angst. Cat was wild. And she loved getting high. Cats brutal, raw honesty about the messiness of her life was captivating. She also had an innocent, childlike perspective, despite being surrounded by drugs and darkness which I think most addicts can relate to. After I finished Cats book, I began to follow her closely on social media. I would describe Cats tweets as manic and scatterbrained. No rhyme or reason, but snippets into her chaotic, beautiful, messy life. At a month clean and sober I saw somebody in the Dopey Nation post that they found some old articles of Cats I knew I had to get my hands on them. That was the beginning of what I’d call one of the coolest, most genuine friendships I’ve made in the Dopey Nation with Justin. J sent me the articles and we immediately went off into conversations about Cat, Dopey, addiction, recovery, and our shared passion for writing. When we found out that Cat was finally going to be a guest on Dopey Podcast after years of what would best be described as a mix of harassment and begging via twitter, we were both beaming with excitement. As we impatiently waited for the podcast to drop, we discussed how we thought her appearance would probably be met with mixed reviews. Most dopey guests have no qualms with diving deep into twisted drug tales and opening up the Dave about their darkest days. But for as much as Cat wrote about her sordid love affair with substances, she holds back during the interview. Her hesitation was mistaken for indifference, her defensiveness mistaken for rudeness. Posts and comments began to flood the DN page, some good, but the majority could not wrap their head around the riddle that is Cat Marnell. The responses read a lot like this... “Oh Good God, I'm listening to the Cat Marnell interview and it's so painful. Poor Dave, she's so rude! I may have to stop listening for the first time ever.” On the flip side, long time Dopey listener and the beautifully talented writer Emily Sullivan had no issue in giving her opinion on Cat “Cat Marnell isn’t for everyone. The beauty editor turned bestselling author graciously revealed the shambles that her life had become because of her substance abuse, for all of our entertainment, People eat it up and think what a disaster but the truth is that Marnell is a brilliant writer, brave, self-deprecating and generous to share those moments with the world.” This, by Emily, is hands down the best way to describe Cat. Cat is truly talented, smart, tuned in to the lessons of life, lives life to the fullest without apology and why should she!? She’s fucking, Cat Marnell!
Stay Strong & Toodles.
Justin & Colleen.
Here are links to both her Memoir & Also her latest work, an Audible Original 'Self Tanner for the Soul', which is a Travel Diary and it really reads well. I insist you buy both as Audio but also, have a copy of HTMYL to hand. I took it on Holiday with me back in July and couldn't put it down! And I had already read it! Enjoy. Justin.