It is strange that a memoir from 2003 can seem so utterly out-of-place and dated, but yes, this book is about ten years old and talks about a media world that doesn’t exist anymore, where the urge to be young and make something of yourself manifests itself in one glittering issue of a magazine called Bleach.
Anyways, there’s something reflective and quiet in Strawberry Saroyan’s memoir that feels like it would resonate, specifically, in the medium of Tumblr, where thoughtful women would post some relevant quotes that could zip around the internet. The book reads like she tried to write several riffs on Goodbye to All That, with varying degrees of success. I think the essay “Ambition” is quite good, and worth trying to find, but overall, the book doesn’t stick with me, so much. It is also annoying to look up old reviews of this book to find that yes, even in 2003, women writing memoirs about their lives in their 20s, and the confusion therein, were of course called “narcissistic,” and the fact that Saroyan’s grandfather is a Great Writer is a strike against her and the reason for the book’s existence, obviously.
These flinty, faulty arguments are exhausting, yes? We need a test to see if this argument is bullshit. Look at a piece of art. Do you like it or not? If you didn’t like it, if it didn’t resonate, do you need to make up some reason for its existence like a Greek myth that says why this particular person got something and you didn’t, or, do you need to explain the reasons why you didn’t like it, explicating said reasons from the text?
It would be absolutely naive to say that the circumstances of, for example, Lena Dunham’s existence - just growing up in New York City, or the charm that you have to learn when your parents are artists and you talk with people at openings, a very useful charm, I would think (a charm that I do not know if I have, or if I learned it, well, it happened four years ago, at most, and it does not work on my family) - did not leave her ahead of others in the ways that New York University kids have the jump on New York media internships, there’s a lot behind every wunderkind and a goodly percentage of the time, it is money, but I’m starting to feel like that’s just part of the system, and that’s the better thing to rail against - instead of the same tired argument against the one true girl genius of the month, whoever she is, at the moment.