How to Be Famous
By Caitlin Moran.
Published by Ebury.
Do you squeal watching Love Island, relish saying the “c” word loudly, and regularly wish it were 3am in London’s Groucho club in 1994 once more? Then you’ll probably want to put this on your sun-lounger wish list.
Caitlin Moran, the Times columnist who taught us How to Be a Woman in 2011 and How to Build a Girl in 2014, is back with the second novel in a proposed trilogy, educating us now in How to Be Famous. Moran’s fangirls (she has more than 780k Twitter followers) will delight in knowing that her sex-hungry protagonist Johanna Morrigan (now 19, working for The Face and living in Camden) is as rude, crude and witty as
ever. Not to mention getting up to her usual tricks with a shower head.
Thankfully, it’s not all teenage lessons in masturbation this time, as Moran ventures into the realms of #MeToo male dominance, filmed sexual encounters and insecure girls who say sorry a lot but rarely “no”. Essentially, her new novel is a grunge version of a reality-TV dating show with a plot line that is equally baffling.
Morrigan loves her best friend, the rising pop star John, but ends up with “vampire” comedian Jerry for two bouts of bad sex, while taking her hapless flatmate’s virginity and writing articles on the joys of teen sex with famous people.
The most interesting character by far is the feminist cheerleader Suzanne, an older woman (all of 25) whom Morrigan describes as so “fizzy and delicious, I want to swim around in her innards like a dolphin”. Seriously? Moran recently complained that “writing something light, bright and frothy is incredibly hard”, and if this calibre of prose is the outcome, it clearly must be.
However, this is a novel that’s better off not being earnestly dissected. Moran’s objective is to get her Gen X audience to embrace their imperfect bodies, reject patriarchy and reminisce about the hedonistic 1990s. On her current book tour, she’s demanded that they come up with new phrases for female arousal. (“Fanny fireworks”, courtesy of the Sheffield leg, is a contender.)
With its abundance of sex, swearing and relationship silliness (all ingredients that keep 3.4m Brits glued to Love Island), this is a book that’s depressingly heading straight to the No 1 slot.