20 Jul Book Review | “Moranifesto” by Caitlin Moran
There are few writers whose work I find so captivating and also laugh-out-loud funny as Caitlin Moran. Last summer on a plane to Prague, and various trains across Europe whilst interrailing I had her book “How to Be A Woman” with me to shorten the journeys.
My first foray into Moran’s work pretty much sealed the deal that she would most definitely be on my list of dream dinner guests. Down to earth, intelligent and hilarious, her books are the special kind that you just, kind of, devour. The same goes for her recent work of fiction – “How to Build a Girl” which I also adored.
So whenever I realised that her newest book “Moranifesto” was out, I went straight to Waterstones and picked up a copy, confident that she couldn’t possibly disappoint me at this stage.
Basically, “Moranifesto” is a compilation of columns she’s written for The Times with commentaries and other pieces of writing on a very broad spectrum of subjects that range from the Olympics, David Bowie and Ant and Dec to more serious “issues” such as the refugee crisis, benefits and FGM.
The central crux behind Moranifesto is –
“Maybe you don’t need to be the right kind of person to write about big things. Maybe anyone thoughtful, and making an effort, can contribute to the debate”
This is an idea that I can wholeheartedly concur with.
The existence of politics is dependent on people; one cannot exist without the other. So whenever I stop to consider this, I wonder why I so often feel alienated from politics, not educated and informed enough to have an opinion on issues “which at any minute can come into your house or that of those you love, and blow all their plans away” as Moran describes.
I love the concept behind Moran’s book because she is essentially through it, making politics more accessible to her readership.
Whenever it is normal to step back and allow the world to be run by the people that are “supposed” to, you are actively estranging yourself from issues that should probably actually concern you. This is why I think her book is great – through simply setting out her own views, whether the majority of her readership agrees with her or not, Moran is starting a conversation and engaging her readers on issues that they might not previously have even found remotely engaging or that they felt informed enough to even have an opinion on.
Moran writes how –
“Maybe there are thousands of us who are not thinking, and not writing, and not talking – just because we think we are the wrong kind of person”
I think this is spot on. I find the topic of politics quite frankly, exhausting to even think about whenever you consider it in and of itself. And it is. It’s confusing and complicated and off-putting.
Yet, Moran takes a broad range of political issues and breaks them down, simplifies them, turns them into the engaging and interesting issues that they are at their very basis. Most “issues” I have found are merely disguised as boring and complicated behind walls of political jargon and important news reports. I’ve found these need to be fought through to find the interesting, thought-provoking aspects beneath. Moran’s straight-talking, down to earth writing digs into politics and yields thought-provoking gold. Excuse the bad metaphor.
Now I have the gushing, Cailin Moran love portion of the review over I can move on to some qualms I had with the book (yes, I was shocked at myself too).
I didn’t find that Moranifesto flowed very well. It was difficult to follow because it essentially threw you into this sea of broad topics that it got the point where I found myself questioning what point exactly Moran was trying to make. It felt like a bit of a disorganised mess if I’m frank.
I know, I know, a personal manifesto would indeed encompass a broad range of differing topics that might not necessarily flow into one another. But when one minute you’re reading about how the rich are blithe and the next you’re reading TV reviews about Ant and Dec and Tom Jones, it all just starts to feel a bit… jarring.
I like organisation, I like to see what direction a book is going in, but I just felt like I was being pulled in every direction.
I think the fact that a fair portion of Moranifesto is recycled Times columns is to blame for the disorganisation of the book. Not to mention it also felt strange and disorientating to be reading old columns that suddenly threw you back a couple of years, however relevant they might have been to the overall manifesto.
In Moran’s defense, the book is divided into three parts – Part One: “The Twenty-First Century, Where We Live” (which I suppose encompasses a lot of varying topics) Part Two: “The Feminisms” (This was probably my favourite part, it flowed much better than the first part), Part Three “The Future” (Some really good chapters in this, PARTICULARLY the chapter “Reading is Fierce” but again, a few random bits about her husband’s car and Benedict Cumberbatch which had me feeling amused but nonetheless puzzled) and finally Part 4 which was the moranifesto which again had me feeling puzzled. Should the book not have been shaped around that to begin with rather than throwing it in at the end? I suppose it was a summary of sorts, and she did the real leg work in the other three parts but still.
All in all, the layout of the book was confusing and made it into a bit of hard work at times which was disappointing for an author whose previous works I pretty much mentally binge ate. Binge read.
I still enjoyed it though, don’t get me wrong. Moran has lots of interesting, thought provoking ideas and I think that a layout that might irk your inner need for organisation is worth putting up with for top notch humor and interesting ideas.