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From Cat Marnell, “New York’s enfant terrible” (The Telegraph), a candid and darkly humorous memoir of prescription drug addiction and self-sabotage, set in the glamorous world of fashion magazines and downtown nightclubs. At twenty-six, Cat Marnell was an associate beauty editor at Lucky, one of the top fashion magazines in America—and that’s all most people knew about her From Cat Marnell, “New York’s enfant terrible” (The Telegraph), a candid and darkly humorous memoir of prescription drug addiction and self-sabotage, set in the glamorous world of fashion magazines and downtown nightclubs. At twenty-six, Cat Marnell was an associate beauty editor at Lucky, one of the top fashion magazines in America—and that’s all most people knew about her. But she hid a secret life. She was a prescription drug addict. She was also a “doctor shopper” who manipulated Upper East Side psychiatrists for pills, pills, and more pills; a lonely bulimic who spent hundreds of dollars a week on binge foods; a promiscuous party girl who danced barefoot on banquets; a weepy and hallucination-prone insomniac who would take anything—anything—to sleep. This is a tale of self-loathing, self-sabotage, and yes, self-tanner. It begins at a posh New England prep school—and with a prescription for Attention Deficit Disorder medication Ritalin. It continues to New York, where we follow Marnell’s amphetamine-fueled rise from intern to editor through the beauty departments of NYLON, Teen Vogue, Glamour, and Lucky. We see her fight between ambition and addiction and how, inevitably, her disease threatens everything she worked so hard to achieve. From the Condé Nast building (where she rides the elevator alongside Anna Wintour) to seedy nightclubs, from doctors’ offices and mental hospitals, Marnell shows—like no one else can—what it is like to live in the wild, chaotic, often sinister world of a young female addict who can’t say no. Combining lightning-rod subject matter and bold literary aspirations, How to Murder Your Life is mesmerizing, revelatory, and necessary.


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From Cat Marnell, “New York’s enfant terrible” (The Telegraph), a candid and darkly humorous memoir of prescription drug addiction and self-sabotage, set in the glamorous world of fashion magazines and downtown nightclubs. At twenty-six, Cat Marnell was an associate beauty editor at Lucky, one of the top fashion magazines in America—and that’s all most people knew about her From Cat Marnell, “New York’s enfant terrible” (The Telegraph), a candid and darkly humorous memoir of prescription drug addiction and self-sabotage, set in the glamorous world of fashion magazines and downtown nightclubs. At twenty-six, Cat Marnell was an associate beauty editor at Lucky, one of the top fashion magazines in America—and that’s all most people knew about her. But she hid a secret life. She was a prescription drug addict. She was also a “doctor shopper” who manipulated Upper East Side psychiatrists for pills, pills, and more pills; a lonely bulimic who spent hundreds of dollars a week on binge foods; a promiscuous party girl who danced barefoot on banquets; a weepy and hallucination-prone insomniac who would take anything—anything—to sleep. This is a tale of self-loathing, self-sabotage, and yes, self-tanner. It begins at a posh New England prep school—and with a prescription for Attention Deficit Disorder medication Ritalin. It continues to New York, where we follow Marnell’s amphetamine-fueled rise from intern to editor through the beauty departments of NYLON, Teen Vogue, Glamour, and Lucky. We see her fight between ambition and addiction and how, inevitably, her disease threatens everything she worked so hard to achieve. From the Condé Nast building (where she rides the elevator alongside Anna Wintour) to seedy nightclubs, from doctors’ offices and mental hospitals, Marnell shows—like no one else can—what it is like to live in the wild, chaotic, often sinister world of a young female addict who can’t say no. Combining lightning-rod subject matter and bold literary aspirations, How to Murder Your Life is mesmerizing, revelatory, and necessary.

30 review for How to Murder Your Life: A Memoir

  1. 5 out of 5

    Roxane

    This is definitely a readable book. The descent to rock bottom is seductive when it happens in such a glamorous way--clubbing, sexy magazine jobs, suffering painted prettily. One thing that is inescapable is that privilege makes addiction sustainable in mind blowing ways. I offer that as observation rather than judgment. There is a good, interesting afterword about where Marnell is now but much of the book is a recitation of addiction and lots of glamorous name/brand dropping without much reflec This is definitely a readable book. The descent to rock bottom is seductive when it happens in such a glamorous way--clubbing, sexy magazine jobs, suffering painted prettily. One thing that is inescapable is that privilege makes addiction sustainable in mind blowing ways. I offer that as observation rather than judgment. There is a good, interesting afterword about where Marnell is now but much of the book is a recitation of addiction and lots of glamorous name/brand dropping without much reflection. I suspect that is more a feature rather than a bug of the addiction memoir genre.

  2. 5 out of 5

    Bonnie Brody

    If you would like to read the shallow story of a self-described 'privileged white girl' who is an addict, this might be the perfect book for you. Can you guess that the author comes from a dysfunctional family that looks great from the outside but is rotten to the core on the inside? And of course she comes from money. The kicker is that her dad is a psychiatrist who prescribes her uppers and downers and her mother is a psychotherapist. This is a story that is b.o.r.i.n.g. It should never have m If you would like to read the shallow story of a self-described 'privileged white girl' who is an addict, this might be the perfect book for you. Can you guess that the author comes from a dysfunctional family that looks great from the outside but is rotten to the core on the inside? And of course she comes from money. The kicker is that her dad is a psychiatrist who prescribes her uppers and downers and her mother is a psychotherapist. This is a story that is b.o.r.i.n.g. It should never have made it to a publisher. It does a disservice to recovery and embodies euphoric recall throughout. What is euphoric recall you may ask? It is when an addict is supposedly in recovery but likes to remember all the great times they had when they were high. Cat likes uppers best but she's a non-discriminatory addict. She'll take benzo's, opiates, snort cocaine, and loves hallucinogens. She's also a drunk who has no insight about how her life affects others. Did I feel sorry for her? Not one bit. She is shallow, lacks insight, and uses her privilege at every turn. Oh, I think I left out that she has an eating disorder. I tried to empathize with her situation and understand where she was coming from but, in the immortal words of a song from Chorus Line, "I felt nothing". This has to be one of the most histrionic, narcissistic, and silly books that I have ever read. Even at the very end of the book, the author is 'caught' doctor shopping. That tells me she has not learned lasting lessons. When she is in true recovery, perhaps she will write a different book, one I will read and review with pleasure. For now, If you care about appearances, think insight is a big joke, and still feel like the world revolves around you, then you might enjoy this memoir.

  3. 5 out of 5

    Esil

    So I was ready to write a pretty negative review of How to Murder Your Life, and then toward the end I turned a sharp corner and realized I was a bit teary and totally engaged in Cat Marnell's story about her addiction. I didn't know anything about Marnell nor do I have much interest in beauty or celebrity, but I gather that she has been the focus of some publicity in the last few years. I don't even remember what piqued my interest when I requested this book because I can only read so many addi So I was ready to write a pretty negative review of How to Murder Your Life, and then toward the end I turned a sharp corner and realized I was a bit teary and totally engaged in Cat Marnell's story about her addiction. I didn't know anything about Marnell nor do I have much interest in beauty or celebrity, but I gather that she has been the focus of some publicity in the last few years. I don't even remember what piqued my interest when I requested this book because I can only read so many addiction memoirs and, as I said, I have no interest in the beauty publishing world. So when I started reading Marnell's memoir there was a real "who cares" overlay to my reading experience. Cat comes from a wealthy Washington DC family. Her family life although privileged was tumultuous. In boarding school at age 15, she discovered Addaral which she decided was absolutely necessary to daily functioning. From then on, her prescription and illegal drug intake became over the top. There is nothing she wouldn't take. In her late teens, she moved to New York and managed to get some good jobs working for fashion magazines, but all the while she continued to be a heavy drug user. And her life spiralled out of control, over and over again. The strength in Cat's story is that she tells it with so much unashamed honesty, recounting her experiences as they felt at the time. What starts off looking like the reckless and spoiled behaviour of privilege, turns into a painful raw story of addiction. She doesn't hold much back, so much so that it's often hard to read parts of her story. In her afterword, Cat tells us she's doing better, but she certainly doesn't pretend to be fine. Would I recommend it? There's a lot of name and brand dropping that meant nothing to me. Editing could have made this one quite a bit shorter. Her language and affect often felt immature and "bloggy". And addicts tend to be really self-absorbed, so Cat doesn't look much further than herself in this book -- although she writes generously about the people who tried to help her. But if you have the patience, Cat's memoir does deliver a really stark picture of how powerful and destructive addiction can be. Thanks to Netgalley and the publisher for an opportunity to read an advance copy.

  4. 4 out of 5

    Julie Ehlers

    I was a devoted reader of Sassy magazine and have followed Jane Pratt's career ever since, but for whatever reason I didn't hear about her website, xoJane, until it had already been around for a while. In fact, I discovered it just after Cat Marnell, its beauty editor, was let go for problems related to her unrepentant drug use. It was hard to catch up on exactly what had happened after the fact, so I was very curious to read the whole story as recounted by Cat herself in How to Murder Your Life I was a devoted reader of Sassy magazine and have followed Jane Pratt's career ever since, but for whatever reason I didn't hear about her website, xoJane, until it had already been around for a while. In fact, I discovered it just after Cat Marnell, its beauty editor, was let go for problems related to her unrepentant drug use. It was hard to catch up on exactly what had happened after the fact, so I was very curious to read the whole story as recounted by Cat herself in How to Murder Your Life. But that didn't mean I expected to like it. When they're actively using, addicts can be some of the most self-absorbed and irresponsible people around, and as such, writing about their addictions can be tricky. How do you describe your own terrible behavior without making the reader toss the book aside in annoyance? Plenty of addicts take the somber route in their memoirs, infusing every page with their regret and shame. Cat Marnell doesn't really do that. I mean, sure, by the time it's over she has plenty of regrets, but she also effectively captures the fact that, when you're just getting started, drug use can seem awesome: The moment when you first try a substance it seems you've been waiting for your whole life. The euphoria that makes you feel that you can do anything. The moments at parties and events when, inhibitions out the window, you can bond with other people and feel like you're really living an interesting life. Cat convincingly portrays all of this, in a conversational, exclamation point–laden style, sometimes addressing the reader directly ("I just love teen smokers, don't you?"). I can see how some readers might find this grating, but I generally found it quite charming, and most definitely entertaining. Just as important, effectively portraying the highs of drug addiction makes it even more harrowing when the good times finally end and Cat's life becomes the sort of horror show you wouldn't wish on your worst enemy. While it's hard to say that I sympathized with her—it can be hard to sympathize with someone who makes so many stupid choices—I was definitely with her, let's put it that way. In fact, I had kind of an exasperating week at work, and yesterday, while sitting in a chair at my hair salon, my mind wandered to my various annoyances and problems—but I quickly realized I wasn't actually thinking of my own problems. I was thinking of Cat's. How often does that happen with any book? Because Cat wrote for the internet and, before that, seemed to write mainly short beauty blurbs for Lucky magazine, I was expecting the sort of messy, casual, meandering, unstructured memoir we typically see from bloggers and other online types. I was shocked, but impressed, to find that this memoir didn't suffer from any of those usual flaws. Despite its exceedingly conversational tone, this book was quite focused. It proceeded through the years in an orderly fashion, with chapters in the book devoted to various chapters of Cat's life. This doesn't sound like such fantastic praise, but honestly, I was very impressed by how well done the book was. Given that Cat's life has been such a trainwreck, the fact that this book is not is quite an achievement. Cat was not happy at xoJane. At one point, she complained that the site contained nothing but "internet garbage." While it's easy to say that Cat had made such a hash of her career by then that she should've been grateful for any opportunity to work as a writer/editor, that didn't change the fact that she was right: xoJane was internet garbage. Cat loved working in print magazines because of their creativity, flair, edgy glamour, and forward-thinking attempts to influence style and culture. She wasn't interested in the sort of dumbed-down clickbait you find so often on the web. These standards are entirely evident in How to Murder Your Life: Rather than going for quick, easy money, she slaved over the book for years while simultaneously getting out of the drug-induced hole she'd put herself in. At one point, concerned with how long the process was taking, Cat's publisher sent over a ghostwriter, but she sent him back and kept working. The result is a singular reading experience, better than it had any right to be, given the circumstances. It's safe to say Cat Marnell has done many, many things she's not proud of, and at this point it's not at all clear whether she's ultimately going to be OK. But How to Murder Your Life shows that her considerable talents have so far survived her self-destructive tendencies, and I hope at least she can feel proud of that. I won this book in a giveaway here on Goodreads. My thanks to the publisher.

  5. 5 out of 5

    Nat K

    "I took shots and fell into the pool in the back garden a la Brian Jones (and not in a cool way)." You've probably guessed it, the above quote sets the tone for the book. I love mixing up the styles of books I read. I'm definitely not a book snob. In fact, I probably enjoy more what's on the best seller list, than the latest literary prize winner. That being the case, it was a change of pace I needed. So I decided on"How To Murder Your Life" as my next read. Talk about messing with my reading equil "I took shots and fell into the pool in the back garden a la Brian Jones (and not in a cool way)." You've probably guessed it, the above quote sets the tone for the book. I love mixing up the styles of books I read. I'm definitely not a book snob. In fact, I probably enjoy more what's on the best seller list, than the latest literary prize winner. That being the case, it was a change of pace I needed. So I decided on"How To Murder Your Life" as my next read. Talk about messing with my reading equilibrium! I thought I had headaches because I haven't been drinking enough water at work. I'm thinking now it was the repetition throughout this story. How messed up can one person be, and how can they drag their drug experiences across soooooo-manyyyyyy-pages. Bah! Humbug! This story says to me that what would be considered a decent and privileged start in life, doesn't necessarily guarantee stability or happiness. In fact, if this book is anything to go by, it's most likely to end up in the opposite direction. Cat Marnell (who I've not heard of before this book), became addicted to drugs for ADHD in her early teens. Sadly, it was her father (a renowned psychiatrist) who first prescribed them to her. And kept prescribing them*. So begins Cat's slippery slope of addiction. I found the tone of the book to be slightly whiny. Along the lines of Gelsey's Kirkland's "Dancing on my grave". Poor lil' ol' me just can't help being a substance abuser. I'm so talented, but my life is a mess, yadda yadda. Woe is me and all that. "My primary relationship was with pills." "Is reading this stuff getting repetitive? Welcome to addiction." It's actually interesting to realise just how much abuse a human body can withstand. And to think it's self inflicted! Though mentally, well, that's clearly another matter. I really enjoyed reading the parts of the book where Cat spoke of the various magazines she's worked on, the creative process of getting a monthly mag out. The beautiful photography, the mega "names" in the publishing industry. So much talent. But then, woe is me, I go and get blisteringly drunk at a work event (again) because poor lil' ol' me just can't help it. Rewind. Repeat. Grrrrr. Is she brave writing this? Dunno. Possibly. Who cares. Put it this way, it certainly is a cautionary tale that shows being a party girl isn't all it's cracked up to be. Eventually the music stops and you have to hang up your stilettos . 2.5★s I ended up doing a bit of a speed read (delicious irony), as I just wanted to see the back of this story. * I could be wrong, but isn't this a conflict of interest? I'd imagine that medical professionals shouldn't be writing scripts for family members.

  6. 4 out of 5

    Theresa Alan

    I heard once that an addict stops maturing at whatever age she starts abusing drugs and/or alcohol. Cat began abusing drugs and alcohol as a teenager, so that might be part of the reason she writes like a teenager. It could also be that she worked for beauty magazines her whole life, but whatever it is, she uses a TON of exclamation points and italics for emphasis and a vocabulary that makes me think I’ve accidently flipped the station to some teen-centric show on CW. It’s an irritating writing I heard once that an addict stops maturing at whatever age she starts abusing drugs and/or alcohol. Cat began abusing drugs and alcohol as a teenager, so that might be part of the reason she writes like a teenager. It could also be that she worked for beauty magazines her whole life, but whatever it is, she uses a TON of exclamation points and italics for emphasis and a vocabulary that makes me think I’ve accidently flipped the station to some teen-centric show on CW. It’s an irritating writing style, especially because she’s writing this in her early to mid thirties. Also, for some reason I got the impression that this was supposed to be funny, and it’s not. At all. It’s entertaining to read about a spoiled kid who goes to interesting parties because of her job, but that’s it. Her being spoiled is how she was able to abuse drugs for so long and work as an intern in New York City for several years—she didn’t have to pay her rent. Then, when her parents finally cut her off, her pay doubled and she was able to survive until drugs and bulimia completely ruled her life—and then she just ran off to hang out with grandma. Thanks to Netgalley for the opportunity to review this book. For more of my reviews, please visit: http://theresaalan.net/blog/

  7. 4 out of 5

    omgbart

    I am amused by people who requested the book not knowing Cat Marnell nor having any interest in the beauty industry, and post a review about how they hated everything about it. The point of spending money on a book is to buy something that interests you. Read, learn, grown, carry on a conversation, etc. With that said, I have always been a fan of Cat Marnell's writing. From Lucky to VICE. I am also a big fan of her favorite boss (JGJ). Having lived in the same neighborhood, shared friends in the I am amused by people who requested the book not knowing Cat Marnell nor having any interest in the beauty industry, and post a review about how they hated everything about it. The point of spending money on a book is to buy something that interests you. Read, learn, grown, carry on a conversation, etc. With that said, I have always been a fan of Cat Marnell's writing. From Lucky to VICE. I am also a big fan of her favorite boss (JGJ). Having lived in the same neighborhood, shared friends in the industry and visited the same spots for social or work related gatherings, I had high hopes for the memoir. It delivered on every front. She's honest (brutally honest) and spares no detail about the disaster her life has become as an addict. Not for everyone, this is a great read for those curious about the rise and fall of a beauty editor. So proud of her for making this comeback. Thank you NetGalley for a digital advanced reading copy in exchange for an honest review.

  8. 4 out of 5

    Chiara

    Ugh, I loved it. I LOVED it. Can't remember the last time I devoured a book like this. I was totally caught up in the "wtf is WRONG with her" train during the XO Jane days (and her behavior as described in the book, especially then, is so abhorrent). But she's a fantastic writer -- witty and self-aware and piquant. I just really thought it was great and hope the best for her. Ugh, I loved it. I LOVED it. Can't remember the last time I devoured a book like this. I was totally caught up in the "wtf is WRONG with her" train during the XO Jane days (and her behavior as described in the book, especially then, is so abhorrent). But she's a fantastic writer -- witty and self-aware and piquant. I just really thought it was great and hope the best for her.

  9. 5 out of 5

    Meirav

    Since we worked in the same industry, I was just as swept away by Cat's clever druggie/beauty column and surrounding drama at the time (I don't know her personally). I wasn't aware of her at Lucky, and when she was writing for xojane, I was like, yeah, why can't she be honest about her Adderall and graffiti-writer blow jobs—at least it's honest, and she has a great voice and sometimes you really do need to know how a liquid lipstick will stand up to a BJ. And then she left for Vice and her colum Since we worked in the same industry, I was just as swept away by Cat's clever druggie/beauty column and surrounding drama at the time (I don't know her personally). I wasn't aware of her at Lucky, and when she was writing for xojane, I was like, yeah, why can't she be honest about her Adderall and graffiti-writer blow jobs—at least it's honest, and she has a great voice and sometimes you really do need to know how a liquid lipstick will stand up to a BJ. And then she left for Vice and her column was horrible because she was clearly way too high to function. Then she was MIA for YEARS, apparently working on this book. Long story short, it's...OK. I was waiting for a reveal of...something deeper, but as it turns out, the whole thing played out pretty true to form in real time the first time around. There was not much more to the story. And worse, I thought she'd be much cooler or more interesting as a person. Not so much. It's just the usual addict fare—look for drugs, get high, do dumb stuff, feel kinda bad about it, get high again—which if you've ever known an addict, is just sort of repetitive and sad. So it's a perfectly fine addiction memoir, if you're into that sort of thing. I came away from it a little disappointed. I was hoping there might be more behind the smeared lipstick and tweaked-out blogging. No such luck. I think the Gawker headlines about her were the most entertaining thing about her whole tenure. My advice to Cat would be to stop navel-gazing and get back to journalism, where her voice can add flavor to a real story.

  10. 4 out of 5

    DoctorM

    Yes, I know. We're not supposed to find this amusing or hot. We're supposed to find it distasteful because Cat Marnell relied on family money and beauty-world connections to avoid the worst consequences of her actions. We're supposed to be shocked and appalled (the horror! the horror!) at a memoir that "glamorizes" addiction. And blah blah blah. But you know what? "How To Murder Your Life" is darkly clever, over-the-top, and...well, hilarious. It could be hotter--- Cat's sex life isn't described Yes, I know. We're not supposed to find this amusing or hot. We're supposed to find it distasteful because Cat Marnell relied on family money and beauty-world connections to avoid the worst consequences of her actions. We're supposed to be shocked and appalled (the horror! the horror!) at a memoir that "glamorizes" addiction. And blah blah blah. But you know what? "How To Murder Your Life" is darkly clever, over-the-top, and...well, hilarious. It could be hotter--- Cat's sex life isn't described in any depth, nor does it contain any of the adventures she detailed in her "Amphetamine Life" column for Vice. But that's a mere quibble. This is wickedly funny. Oh, yes, Cat is a trainwreck--- far too risky to date, but perfect to have as a friend whose stories allow you to experience depravity vicariously. Some of the pop culture references in her tales will fade from memory or age badly, but...still: this is a rather witty, very fun read. Put on your headphones, crank up Britney's "Blackout" album, and enjoy.

  11. 5 out of 5

    Emily

    In an unsurprising continuation of my accidental theme of 2017, I loved this book about yet another unlikeable female main character. From fiction to nonfiction, Hausfrau to The Rules Do Not Apply, I have found a real affinity for these flawed women and their stories. I've liked Cat Marnell's writing since her time at xoJane and Vice. My familiarity with her work made this book much more enjoyable for me; if I hadn't had any prior knowledge of her life and writing, I doubt I would have been as i In an unsurprising continuation of my accidental theme of 2017, I loved this book about yet another unlikeable female main character. From fiction to nonfiction, Hausfrau to The Rules Do Not Apply, I have found a real affinity for these flawed women and their stories. I've liked Cat Marnell's writing since her time at xoJane and Vice. My familiarity with her work made this book much more enjoyable for me; if I hadn't had any prior knowledge of her life and writing, I doubt I would have been as invested as I was in her story. Many reviewers mentioned disliking the repetitive name-dropping of beauty products, fashion brands, and Condé Nasties throughout the book, but I think that the endless focus on what she was wearing and who she was trying to impress really demonstrated how screwed up her priorities were. Parts of this book were like watching an episode of I Love Lucy where Lucy embarks on a caper that's sure to infuriate Ricky and endanger his role at the Tropicana and in your head you're screaming No, Lucy-- don't do it! but you're smiling and laughing and hoping everything turns out okay, which it always does. Other parts were like watching a slowly burning building, first with small pieces falling off and then huge chunks collapsing, and everything doesn't turn out okay. It was equal parts funny, sad, and fascinating. However, I am glad I read this book at twenty nine instead of nineteen, as I think that nineteen-year-old Emily would have walked away with the exact opposite message than I think the author intended. Cat Marnell manages to make her downward spiral toward rock bottom sound so effortlessly sexy and glamorous that I think a more impressionable reader could easily pass over the (admittedly few) self-reflective parts of the book and be seduced by the allure of sex, drugs, and designer self-tanner that ultimately led our narrator to a life in shambles. I appreciated her candor, her wit, and her acknowledgement of her privilege and truly terrible judgment, and I believe that her main takeaways (which to me were: things will get better, take care of yourself, value yourself, and don't let sketchy guys into your apartment) are valuable and worth reading through all the shenanigans. I found myself in some of these pages, particularly the parts about struggling to form real friendships in my early twenties and allowing myself to fall into the company of disreputable characters. While I never went completely off the rails like Cat did, not even close, I know that my life's trajectory would have been a lot closer to hers if I had continued down the path I was on, filled with guys in bands and questionable piercings instead of Cat's graffiti writers and dirty designer clothes. How to Murder Your Life is a powerful memoir and cautionary tale, and I know it will stay with me for a long time.

  12. 4 out of 5

    da AL

    She does a great & very interesting job -- because this is book is quite entertaining yet doesn't make addiction attractive. Good writing, yes. Compelling story, yes. Scratching my head over whether also has much to do with miracle of name dropping? Or perhaps more so the amazing ability of many addicts to be equally enthralling & obnoxious? Maybe all that & then some... She does a great & very interesting job -- because this is book is quite entertaining yet doesn't make addiction attractive. Good writing, yes. Compelling story, yes. Scratching my head over whether also has much to do with miracle of name dropping? Or perhaps more so the amazing ability of many addicts to be equally enthralling & obnoxious? Maybe all that & then some...

  13. 4 out of 5

    Jayne Lamb

    I *loved* it. And there's an extra star, for all the hilarous, outraged one-star reviews that completely missed the point of the book. Cat Marnell is like the love child of Courtney Love and Diana Vreeland and this is like White Girl Problems for real. Hilarious, engaging, relatable (well, depends on the reader) and full of two of my biggest obsessions: prescription drugs and makeup. Best addiction memoir since More, Now, Again: A Memoir of Addiction and I *love* that book. I *loved* it. And there's an extra star, for all the hilarous, outraged one-star reviews that completely missed the point of the book. Cat Marnell is like the love child of Courtney Love and Diana Vreeland and this is like White Girl Problems for real. Hilarious, engaging, relatable (well, depends on the reader) and full of two of my biggest obsessions: prescription drugs and makeup. Best addiction memoir since More, Now, Again: A Memoir of Addiction and I *love* that book.

  14. 5 out of 5

    Sarah Joint

    When I started this book, I wasn't sure I would finish it. The beginning is disjointed, disturbing, and filled with exclamation points. I kind of felt like I was reading what an overly friendly and terribly drunk girl at a bar was babbling to me. It took me awhile to adapt to her style. I also have virtually no personal experience with drugs. She was naming pills I've never even heard of. What saved the story a little is that I did end up finding it interesting. Beauty products are another love When I started this book, I wasn't sure I would finish it. The beginning is disjointed, disturbing, and filled with exclamation points. I kind of felt like I was reading what an overly friendly and terribly drunk girl at a bar was babbling to me. It took me awhile to adapt to her style. I also have virtually no personal experience with drugs. She was naming pills I've never even heard of. What saved the story a little is that I did end up finding it interesting. Beauty products are another love of mine, and it was interesting to hear about her experiences in the magazine industry. Now, this is the story of a privileged white girl who becomes an addict. She admits that she's always been privileged over and over, so at least she owns up to it. For those of us that grew up without these advantages, it can be frustrating... but her life was never perfect. We did have one thing in common: the ADD drugs she was prescribed, I was prescribed around the same age. I did not like them. Cat did. Her stories and actions also get repetitive, but she admits that as well. It's the life of an addict. She's full of fantastic and impressive drive and ambition, especially at first. That does not go well with her addiction. I wasn't familiar with Cat Marnell at all, so I was going in blind. Book includes a lot of party stories, drugs, assault, tantrums, name dropping, promiscuity, and just plain craziness. It's a hard pill to swallow. (Get it?) By the end I was interested in finding out where she goes from here. She started as a young girl with many advantages... around the age of 22, she's not actually sure if she has health insurance and is pleased when she does, because it makes getting pills much easier. Previously they were provided by her doctor father or her parent's money. All in all, a very different kind of book for me. Sometimes it made me uncomfortable and I often got frustrated with her. It was still interesting but mostly because of the magazine industry. I think it could have done with a bit more editing and shortened. I was given an ARC of this book from Net Galley and Simon & Schuster, thank you! My review is honest and unbiased.

  15. 5 out of 5

    Bamboozlepig

    Nope, nope, nope. If anything, this book glorifies drug abuse and addiction. It also glorifies anorexia and bulimia, not to mention making extremely poor life choices and then whining about how hard the experiences were to go through because of those poor life choices. Cat Marnell comes from an admittedly dysfunctional, but extremely privileged background afforded her because her parents were wealthy. She seemed to learn nothing and I mean NOTHING from any of her rehab experiences OR her poor li Nope, nope, nope. If anything, this book glorifies drug abuse and addiction. It also glorifies anorexia and bulimia, not to mention making extremely poor life choices and then whining about how hard the experiences were to go through because of those poor life choices. Cat Marnell comes from an admittedly dysfunctional, but extremely privileged background afforded her because her parents were wealthy. She seemed to learn nothing and I mean NOTHING from any of her rehab experiences OR her poor life choices. And I went into reading this with memories of my own experiences battling addiction. For 15 years, I was addicted to Fioricet, a prescription painkiller given to me for my chronic migraines, and Ambien, given to me as a sleep aid because the caffeine in the Fioricet kept me up. My addiction was what I'd call an unintentional one because I wasn't taking the medicines to get high, I was taking them because I got into a reeeeeeally bad cycle of rebound headaches. I had a Dr. Feelgood that was willing to prescribe me whatever amounts I needed and just before I finally got clean in 2009, I was taking almost 4 times the recommended dosage of the Fioricet and twice the recommended dosage of the Ambien. It nearly killed me...I fell in my apartment and busted my nose, and when my mom got me to the hospital, they told me my body was shutting down and I had about a week to live. It was then that I asked for help because by that time, my life was one hellishly miserable experience and I was sick of being a slave to the medicines. I was lucky because the neurologist who was treating me didn't think slapping me into the drug rehab unit was a good idea because I wasn't taking the medicines for the high or to escape, I was taking them for the rebound headaches. He let me detox in a private room and during detox, I had two seizures and wound up in the ICU for a couple of days. And when I came home from the hospital a week later, I was scared shitless. I didn't have the painkillers to take for my migraines or the Ambien to help me sleep, but I was determined to never EVER go back to the life I had while taking the medicines and this past February 7th, I celebrated my 8th anniversary of being clean. Even in the throes of my worst migraines, I have NO desire for the painkillers and in fact, when I was in the ER a few years ago with stomach issues, they wanted to give me a little bit of morphine for the pain, telling me they'd okayed it with my neuro, and I refused it. So I guess my experience was the opposite of what Marnell experienced. Maybe because almost dying from my addiction knocked some sense into my head and scared me so badly that I never wanted to go through that shit again.

  16. 5 out of 5

    Tory

    This "trash"terpiece is the exclamation-mark-riddled love child of a coke-fueled unprotected rager between The Devil Wears Prada and A Million Little Pieces. A so-bad-it's-good schadenfreude binge. (Before they go to publication, I hope someone on staff catches that Heath Ledger wasn't in The Dark Knight RISES.) This "trash"terpiece is the exclamation-mark-riddled love child of a coke-fueled unprotected rager between The Devil Wears Prada and A Million Little Pieces. A so-bad-it's-good schadenfreude binge. (Before they go to publication, I hope someone on staff catches that Heath Ledger wasn't in The Dark Knight RISES.)

  17. 4 out of 5

    Ellen

    Is she buying drugs with the money from this book? Or is she donating it to help other addicts? She never seems to want to be sober- this book is just a self-indulgent next step after the articles written about her. This isn't a story about her getting clean, she's just trying to extend her fifteen minutes in the spotlight. I really did like her, and I wished I could have helped her but she became so unlikable that it was a struggle to finish. Her priviledge was very irritating- how dare she moa Is she buying drugs with the money from this book? Or is she donating it to help other addicts? She never seems to want to be sober- this book is just a self-indulgent next step after the articles written about her. This isn't a story about her getting clean, she's just trying to extend her fifteen minutes in the spotlight. I really did like her, and I wished I could have helped her but she became so unlikable that it was a struggle to finish. Her priviledge was very irritating- how dare she moan about $100-a-day rehab and then do nothing to help addicts who don't have rich parents? I was really disapppointed with this book and I regret buying it.

  18. 4 out of 5

    Shakeia

    Part fascinating, gossipy goodness, part "girl, what?" Cat Marnell really makes her addiction sound rather glamorous, but she totally warned the reader about her gross white privilege early on. There are a lot of pop culture and internet references that I imagine will really date the book at some point and the attempt at reflection at the end of the book felt forced and insincere. Not a great read, but, oddly, not a terrible or terribly sad (other than feeling a way for and about her at various Part fascinating, gossipy goodness, part "girl, what?" Cat Marnell really makes her addiction sound rather glamorous, but she totally warned the reader about her gross white privilege early on. There are a lot of pop culture and internet references that I imagine will really date the book at some point and the attempt at reflection at the end of the book felt forced and insincere. Not a great read, but, oddly, not a terrible or terribly sad (other than feeling a way for and about her at various points throughout) read for an addiction memoir.

  19. 5 out of 5

    Amina

    ohmygod, you guys, she was, like, totally messed up. her wealthy parents did not understand her, like at all. so she got into drugs. like, the the bad bad ones. and did, like, too much drugs and hung out with really toxic people and got pregnant a few times and had a glamorous NYC job and her alleged best friend was like a malignant narcissist (she read that book after, tbh) and wore expensive size 25 jeans (bulimia is "a rich-bitch disease") and made a career of being a junkie writer... but ins ohmygod, you guys, she was, like, totally messed up. her wealthy parents did not understand her, like at all. so she got into drugs. like, the the bad bad ones. and did, like, too much drugs and hung out with really toxic people and got pregnant a few times and had a glamorous NYC job and her alleged best friend was like a malignant narcissist (she read that book after, tbh) and wore expensive size 25 jeans (bulimia is "a rich-bitch disease") and made a career of being a junkie writer... but instead of recovery (rehab is totally unreasonable!), she, just, like went to thailand? and woke up really early and, like, wrote and got reeeeeaaaally tan. now, off the like bad bad drugs, she just takes adderall and ambien and only doctor shops sometimes tee hee. Why do anything horrible like abstinence (shudder) or recovery or become a decent-ish human being, when she can take a harm reduction approach and stay shallow and self-centered? Plus, she's like really really ambitious and that will be stronger than her addiction, amirite?

  20. 5 out of 5

    Roman Clodia

    This is real car-crash reading that is voyeuristically rivetting: Marnell seems completely honest in her grisly recital of addiction and humiliation. Talented, privileged (and knowingly acknowledging both), it's not completely clear how she gets into such a dire spiral but she depicts it in full-colour. The biggest mystery is how she ever managed to hold down such a public job in NYC when she was hallucinating, sobbing and wearing grubby, dirty clothes... It gets a bit repetitive but is still an This is real car-crash reading that is voyeuristically rivetting: Marnell seems completely honest in her grisly recital of addiction and humiliation. Talented, privileged (and knowingly acknowledging both), it's not completely clear how she gets into such a dire spiral but she depicts it in full-colour. The biggest mystery is how she ever managed to hold down such a public job in NYC when she was hallucinating, sobbing and wearing grubby, dirty clothes... It gets a bit repetitive but is still an eye-opening read. Thanks to the publisher for an ARC via NetGalley

  21. 5 out of 5

    Kim

    This was terrible and awesome and I devoured it. I am an enabler now, but ... damn.

  22. 4 out of 5

    Dash fan

    This book gives you a harsh look into the life of Cat and her battles with drug addiction. Cat comes from a wealthy family which makes addiction even easier for her. At 15 she starts to explore with drugs and becomes quickly reliant on them to be able to function day to day. Cat spirals down a slippery slope of exploration of harder and more dangerous drugs alongside abusing prescription meds. Cat is in the fashion industry and drugs play a part and becomes extremely dependant on them. It's not for t This book gives you a harsh look into the life of Cat and her battles with drug addiction. Cat comes from a wealthy family which makes addiction even easier for her. At 15 she starts to explore with drugs and becomes quickly reliant on them to be able to function day to day. Cat spirals down a slippery slope of exploration of harder and more dangerous drugs alongside abusing prescription meds. Cat is in the fashion industry and drugs play a part and becomes extremely dependant on them. It's not for the want of trying to kick the addiction because she has tried and failed on numerous occassions. Cat's raw account of her addiction is hard hitting and painful to read at times. But she is brutally honest and open and I feel that's why I liked this book. It was a real account of her addiction and demons. Is there light at the end of the tunnel for Cat? Well I guess you will have to read to find out. I received this book from the Publisher in exchange for a honest and fair review via Netgalley.

  23. 5 out of 5

    Sofi

    Basically, this book follows Cat Marnell’s life from the time that she was a child, through her years in boarding school, through several magazine and media careers as a beauty editor as well as a writer, and so on. But most of all this book focuses on Cat’s problems with addiction starting with prescription medication when she was a teenager, and carries on through her using of other much stronger drugs. She is brutally honest, about her lower times and higher times. And I definitely respect he Basically, this book follows Cat Marnell’s life from the time that she was a child, through her years in boarding school, through several magazine and media careers as a beauty editor as well as a writer, and so on. But most of all this book focuses on Cat’s problems with addiction starting with prescription medication when she was a teenager, and carries on through her using of other much stronger drugs. She is brutally honest, about her lower times and higher times. And I definitely respect her honesty in this book. She doesn’t hold back, even about times when she wasn’t necessarily the kindest person. So many parts of this book were so insightful about what it is like to live with addiction and its consequences, what it does to a person over a period of time. How it can start off fun and gradually lead to a life of progressively more disastrous consequences. I had never heard of Cat before reading this book, even though she has been in the media spotlight quite a few times. But, after reading this, I think that she is one kick-ass chick. I loved hearing/reading about her story. I absolutely adored this book. I originally checked it out from the library, and I realized about halfway through that I loved it enough to go out and buy my own copy. Along with the audiobook, which I had such a blast listening to while I was driving around town. Cat narrates her book beautifully, it was like listening to a friend after I became so immersed in her story. I wanted to know more and more about her. To be honest, at times listening to this book was difficult because it was like watching a train wreck that you can’t look away from. And I mean that in the best way possible. She is such a talented and gifted writer, and it really shows in this book. You feel like you’re right there with her. She knows how to paint a picture with words. That sounds cheesy, but that’s how I feel about her gorgeous writing. I will definitely be checking out more of her work and I can’t wait to see what she comes out with next. And she was so relatable. I’ve had my history with meds, eating disorders, and addiction in general. In my life and in the lives around me. Personally, I can’t remember months from when I was a teenager because of prescription meds. I’m not ashamed to admit that I also had problems with an eating disorder, those feelings have never completely gone away. I still relapse every once in a while to my self sabotaging ways. And it was so refreshing to listen to somebody talk about her addiction problems so openly and unapologetically! If you’re easily triggered, this might not be the book for you. If you have no experience with addiction yourself - or no comprehension of what it’s like - then, quite honestly, you might be a bit too judgmental for this book. I think this is one of those books that you are either going to hate or love. And I loved every minute of it. It was one wild ride. I could definitely see myself re-reading this book many times over and over in the future. Thank you so much, Cat, for sharing your story with the world.

  24. 4 out of 5

    Samantha

    How to Murder your Life is, without a doubt, my favourite book of 2016. Released in February 2017, this book is the autobiography of Cat Marnell’s life so far. Wowza. As soon as I saw this on Netgalley I knew I needed it in my life. I absolutely love fashion magazines and just find the whole fashion industry intriguing (and often ridiculous). If you loved The Devil Wears Prada you will adore this real life version. I recently read Inside Vogue by Alexandra Shulman (UK Vogue Editor-in-Chief) and I How to Murder your Life is, without a doubt, my favourite book of 2016. Released in February 2017, this book is the autobiography of Cat Marnell’s life so far. Wowza. As soon as I saw this on Netgalley I knew I needed it in my life. I absolutely love fashion magazines and just find the whole fashion industry intriguing (and often ridiculous). If you loved The Devil Wears Prada you will adore this real life version. I recently read Inside Vogue by Alexandra Shulman (UK Vogue Editor-in-Chief) and I thought that was juicy! How to Murder your Life is something else entirely; it’s totally off the charts. The book charts Marnell’s journey from growing up with a dysfunctional family, tricking her psychiatrist father into giving her a ton of prescription drugs. She becomes an (almost) functional drug addict, working her way up to Beauty Editor at Lucky Magazine. I absolutely flew through this book as it was like living in an alternative universe. My life could not be more different than this and couldn’t believe some of these things actually happen in real life! Not to make light of Marnell’s troubled life, this has everything from psychotic best friends, drug-fuelled celeb parties and eating disorders to weird sex and teen pregnancy. I found it interesting that despite all the issues her drug use has caused (not including the impact on her health), Marnell continues to use drugs albeit in a much more liberal way. For me, books are there to experience things that you wouldn’t otherwise; learn from other people’s experiences and mistakes. I am so grateful to Cat Marnell for sharing her story as it took me on a whirlwind adventure I will never forget. It sounds like she’s a lot more settled now and I hope she continues to have a calm but never-boring life. Thanks to Netgalley and Penguin Random House for giving me an early copy of this book in exchange for an honest review.

  25. 4 out of 5

    Sarah

    An ultra-privileged druggie fashion girl memoir, written with a flippant and unapologetic attitude and with absolutely no redemptive ending definitely isn't for everyone. But going back to Lucky magazine, Marnell has a writing style I find appealing--almost against my will. Fun and super fast read that is practically guaranteed to make you feel much better about all your life choices. An ultra-privileged druggie fashion girl memoir, written with a flippant and unapologetic attitude and with absolutely no redemptive ending definitely isn't for everyone. But going back to Lucky magazine, Marnell has a writing style I find appealing--almost against my will. Fun and super fast read that is practically guaranteed to make you feel much better about all your life choices.

  26. 4 out of 5

    Stacy LeVine

    I've been reading Cat Marnell and taking her beauty product advice--shout-out to Dr. Dennis Gross alpha beta ultra gentle daily peel--since the advent of the erstwhile xoJane. I even almost submitted a few pieces to xoJane...only to stop myself each time with the mental reminder: "Stacy, you don't want to be a confessional writer. You've always managed to keep your crazy New York life largely private in the face of online oversharing. Don't give that up now. Besides, your fellow downtown disaster I've been reading Cat Marnell and taking her beauty product advice--shout-out to Dr. Dennis Gross alpha beta ultra gentle daily peel--since the advent of the erstwhile xoJane. I even almost submitted a few pieces to xoJane...only to stop myself each time with the mental reminder: "Stacy, you don't want to be a confessional writer. You've always managed to keep your crazy New York life largely private in the face of online oversharing. Don't give that up now. Besides, your fellow downtown disaster/crazy neighbor has that beat covered." That neighbor was Cat Marnell. We very nearly share a birthday (mine's 09/09/79 to her 09/10/82--I was actually at Lil Frankie's the night of her party) and have been at the same parties and bars and art shows and passed by each other in the delis and on the streets of the East Village at wack hours many, many times over the years. Never once have I mustered the balls to speak to her. (And I've mustered quite the arsenal of New York street balls in my day.) Had I really understood that the "famous" girl around the corner was as lonely and lost as I was then, I might have reached out to her. Now I'm living in Astoria, working on my MFA in nonfiction and using this book for one of my craft annotations. I dove into it right after work yesterday evening and plowed straight through until finishing it just before midnight tonight, stopping only to order from "demon" Seamless. (I had literally JUST answered the door for my wee-hours diner delivery when I read that line and guffawed.) And knowing the Cat Canon as thoroughly as I do, I was surprised to find that this book hit me HARD. There is far more heart in it than there is in anything else she's yet published. All that said, Cat, if you're reading this: THANK YOU FOR WRTING THE STORY OF MY OWN MESSY NEW YORK LIFE, SO THAT I NEVER HAVE TO. AND HIT ME UP SHOULD YOU EVER NEED A NEW KINDRED SPIRIT FRIEND IN YOUR LIFE. Best, Stacy

  27. 5 out of 5

    Katy Kennedy

    Is Cat completely rotten? Yes. Did I find myself identifying with her in disgust for about 80% of this book? Also yes. The most compelling thing about addiction memoirs is that the main actors do it all to themselves. All the pain, the destruction, the tragedy: completely self-inflicted. The cognitive dissonance involved in that unfailingly makes for interesting reading. If strong character motivation is the driving force that propels a good narrative, then a character in pursuit of drugs makes f Is Cat completely rotten? Yes. Did I find myself identifying with her in disgust for about 80% of this book? Also yes. The most compelling thing about addiction memoirs is that the main actors do it all to themselves. All the pain, the destruction, the tragedy: completely self-inflicted. The cognitive dissonance involved in that unfailingly makes for interesting reading. If strong character motivation is the driving force that propels a good narrative, then a character in pursuit of drugs makes for one hell of a plot. I listened to the audiobook version of this. If I had had to read its glossed-up, "Heeey bitch" writing style in print format, I don't think I would have made it through this one. Read aloud by the author herself, though, it was a complete delight. I especially loved how willing Cat was to lay it all out there, no matter how despicable her actions made her seem. And I love that she didn't resort to tacking on any false redemption at the end of her story (well, not much anyway), which would have been the tidy, predictable thing to do. She is completely willing to be a whackjob drug addict who still seems to be trying to find her way in the world.

  28. 4 out of 5

    Megan Johnson

    I thought it was excellent. Marnell uses honesty and humor to tell her story. She says outright that she's the product of white privilege, and she doesn't attempt to disguise it. Instead she just kind of lets it all out. Also she describes her home decor as "midcentury meth lab" which i really like I thought it was excellent. Marnell uses honesty and humor to tell her story. She says outright that she's the product of white privilege, and she doesn't attempt to disguise it. Instead she just kind of lets it all out. Also she describes her home decor as "midcentury meth lab" which i really like

  29. 5 out of 5

    Michelle

    I don't know what it says about me that I've never tried an illegal drug of any sort yet am drawn to addiction memoirs. This (very unapologetic, very "non-recovered") addiction memoir started out so strong. Her writing is chummy and bubbly and funny. I can see why some think her style is juvenile but it totally works. Also, I listened on Audible, so perhaps it comes across better in her voice than on the page. She definitely "acts out" the memoir and imbues a lot of life into the stories. I thin I don't know what it says about me that I've never tried an illegal drug of any sort yet am drawn to addiction memoirs. This (very unapologetic, very "non-recovered") addiction memoir started out so strong. Her writing is chummy and bubbly and funny. I can see why some think her style is juvenile but it totally works. Also, I listened on Audible, so perhaps it comes across better in her voice than on the page. She definitely "acts out" the memoir and imbues a lot of life into the stories. I think this is why I loved the first half, but did not care for the second half. There were just too many crying episodes (which she recounts in a sniveling/sniffy voice), too many "aaaaaaaaahhhhhhh!", and definitely 1-2 more rat hallucinations than were strictly needed. Plus the Marco "storyline" was just pathetic and sad. By the end I was super sick of it all, but I guess that's sort of the point, when you're talking addicts. Cat says many times that she is charming, and she must be, because there is no other way to explain how her parents and grandmother continued supporting her, even when she quit jobs specifically to do drugs (and was very open about this). And I have no idea how she kept her Lucky Magazine job for so long. The women that worked with her in that department must've been the nicest, best team players on earth because they covered for her constantly. Definitely my favorite "character" in this was her boss, Jean Godfrey June, who seems like a super stylish, whip-smart saint. Also, it was cool to hear about the magazine, pre-2008 crash heydays. I just don't get how they weren't all utterly fed up with her. She's definitely uber privileged, which is not a criticism, just a fact. I can't imagine she'd even be still alive if she weren't. Anyway, it seems so unappealing to be engaging in all these antics (still!) in one's mid-30s. I mean, yuck. She's very open that she's not done and while I guess being a total mess can be cute when you're younger, at least to some people, I just think it'd be tired by now. I felt exhausted just listening to this all the way through!

  30. 4 out of 5

    Jenny Buchta

    When I first thought of reviewing this book, I wanted to eviscerate the author. Who throws away all the privileges she was handed? Who chooses drugs over a luxurious NY lifestyle working for Condé Nast? But, after some reflection, I realized that Cat had already eluded to how "white privileged" she was in the first few chapters. She already knows how stupid she's been and how dismaying it is to have thrown away her life for drugs. So I'll give her that. I waited impatiently for the release of thi When I first thought of reviewing this book, I wanted to eviscerate the author. Who throws away all the privileges she was handed? Who chooses drugs over a luxurious NY lifestyle working for Condé Nast? But, after some reflection, I realized that Cat had already eluded to how "white privileged" she was in the first few chapters. She already knows how stupid she's been and how dismaying it is to have thrown away her life for drugs. So I'll give her that. I waited impatiently for the release of this book since I learned of the infamous Cat Marnell and her memoir's inception, sometime in early 2014. When I found it on Netgalley, I waited impatiently over the Thanksgiving weekend to see the approval email hit my inbox. My expectations for this book have had some time to climb higher and higher. While I appreciate Cat's blatant honesty and blunt criticism of her own drug use, I was really pulling for her to have that final "12th step" epiphany of sobriety. I wanted her to get clean and have stayed clean for a chunk of time, to have the closure that would lead to a "happy ending." But I guess that's not Cat's style or prerogative. She tells the truth, even in the afterword. And that truth is slightly a letdown for me, someone who always roots for the angel over the devil on the shoulder. I hope Cat continues to write and stays on top of her addiction. I hope she shares more of the story of the book's creation and her time in Thailand. I hope she finally gets her happy ending.

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