I initially found Julie Klausner’s book on Amazon after reading something about the book being converted for TV with Lizzie Caplin up to star as the protagonist. My decision to purchase was also influenced by the only review for the book, written by a horrible woman who really didn’t seem to understand humour and was upset that it wasn’t more like Sex And The City. I was sold!
The book is primarily about Julie’s dating exploits from childhood through to her early 30’s, where we find her, well adjusted, today. However, it’s most definitely not one of those “Smart Girls Guide To Breaking Up/Who Needs A Man Anyway” deals. Far from it. Julie LOVES men. And that’s one of the things that stops this memoir falling into the realm of angry young feminist sitting in Clevercleverland.
Right from the get go, this book is pretty fucking hysterical.
Learning about young Julie’s childhood struck at least a few chords of resonance with me – well, of the Judy Blume/Paula Danzinger inspired childhood I had in my mind if not my own dull English Countryside existence. From her desperation to be a child star through to her initial foray into the world of boys, and her catalogue knowledge of TV shows, movies and indie rock. (Now I realised that this describes pretty much any girl that came of age in the 90s and has ever picked up a copy of Bust, but trust me, these days we’re a dying breed)
From long distance early internet romances through an adolescent obsession with phone sex lines, there are many cultural markers that will ring true to many a girl of a certain demographic. At times it’s as if she’s dredging up my own sordid teen years, but without any of the stomach-in-mouth embarrassment that would usually accompany.
I particularly enjoyed reading Turn Down The Glamour about the relationship with her first real boyfriend David, who “tried to strip away all of Kate’s lovely lashes and wigs and iridescent outfits to reveal what he was confident was the mousy, wide-eyed, ragamuffin little girl that he wanted to love me as, and who he wanted me to be”
Who hasn’t been in this situation with at least one punk/indie rock boy?
Another favourite is the essay I originally read years ago “I Don’t Care About Your Band” about dating an “Indie Rock Musician” from “Williamsburg” (I remember at the time reading a rumour about who the piece was about, and then meeting the supposed suitor myself a little while later, and also being super-surprised by how short he was)
This piece has always rung so true to me, because boys in bands do refuse to grow up – more than boys in general. They will literally be in their 40s and still behaving the same way they have been since their teens. Although this is an appealing prospect in your early 20s, as a woman, regardless of how many pins still adorn your denim jacket, you’ll soon find yourself wanting more than an encyclopaedic knowledge of Elephant 6 releases.
And it’s always nice to be validated.
Julie traverses the New York dating landscape and encounters almost as many types as you’ll find in 90s classic Field Guide To The North American Male. Learning a little something from each and every encounter. She finds humour sometimes even sense, and rarely strays into bitterness in her descriptions.
I’d love to write more about just.how.good I found this book, but I’m already a little on the verbose side, and I have one more point I’d like to make.
One of the things that really upsets me about other reviews I’ve read about this book is the assumption that because at times Julie warns you that you can’t trust all your female friends, and has the audacity to have a gay best friend (jeeez, how stereotypical) then she can’t possibly be a feminist.
This is the kind of (haha) rationale that will send me into a huge fit of rage. There are literally hundreds of books written by girls who just love shopping and “chicklit” and weren’t appalled by the way Sex And The City finally ended. And there are also hundreds of books written by Wimmin’s Studies majors who despise lipstick and believe wholeheartedly in the power of girlhood. You know what there aren’t hundreds of books about? Girls who fall between the two camps. Girls who grew up with Riot Grrrl, but also lust after pin up good looks and hate being photographed without their Rubywoo.
Girls the media often refers to as “sassy”
I’m one of those girls, and I’m glad that someone has eventually written a book so smart and so funny that I can actually relate to.
Julie Klausner – I salute you.
Oh, and you can buy her book here