My Misspent Youth: Essays

My Misspent Youth Essays Meghan Daum is one of the most celebrated nonfiction writers of her generation widely recognized for the fresh provocative approach with which she unearths hidden fault lines in the American landsca

  • Title: My Misspent Youth: Essays
  • Author: Meghan Daum
  • ISBN: 9781890447267
  • Page: 239
  • Format: Paperback
  • My Misspent Youth: Essays

    Meghan Daum is one of the most celebrated nonfiction writers of her generation, widely recognized for the fresh, provocative approach with which she unearths hidden fault lines in the American landscape From her well remembered New Yorker essays about the financial demands of big city ambition and the ethereal, strangely old fashioned allure of cyber relationships to herMeghan Daum is one of the most celebrated nonfiction writers of her generation, widely recognized for the fresh, provocative approach with which she unearths hidden fault lines in the American landscape From her well remembered New Yorker essays about the financial demands of big city ambition and the ethereal, strangely old fashioned allure of cyber relationships to her dazzlingly hilarious riff in Harper s about musical passions that give way to middle brow paraphernalia, Daum delves into the center of things while closely examining the detritus that spills out along the way She speaks to questions at the root of the contemporary experience, from the search for authenticity and interpersonal connection in a society defined by consumerism and media to the disenchantment of working in a glamour profession to the catastrophic effects of living among New York City s terminal hipsters With precision and well balanced irony, Daum implicates herself as readily as she does the targets that fascinate and horrify her In a review of The KGB Bar Reader, in which Daphne Merkin singled out Daum s essay about the inability to mourn a friend s death, Merkin wrote It s brutally quick, the way this happens, this falling in love with a writer s style Daum s story hooked me by the second line Hmm, I thought, this is a writer worth suspending my routines for.

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    One thought on “My Misspent Youth: Essays

    1. Whitney Atkinson

      DNF at 129 pages. I bought this book because the preview I read of the first essay and tbh that was the only good one. I just don't like Daum's attitude. Her essays are very opinionated and I disagree with a lot of those opinions. Literally one of her essays was about a family of polygamists, which is interesting and I would love to learn about, but she posed it from the position of "haha look at these nerds who are geeky sci-fi lovers and fuck multiple people" and it was just disturbing. The re [...]

    2. Ocean

      UGH. this book makes me so glad that i left new york. why? because i'd have to deal with people like meghan daum all fucking day. people who feel the need to write 1000+ word essays on things like their hatred of carpet (although i know you carpet-haters like to pontificate on that subject), people who think that their neurotic/workaholic tendencies are funny and interesting as opposed to boring and draining, people who make hardly any money yet rent apartments in fancy neighborhoods and then wr [...]

    3. Julie Ehlers

      Meghan Daum and I are around the same age, and I'm sure I would've related more to My Misspent Youth if I'd read it back when it was first published in the 1990s. In the 2010s, however, this book is dated, dated, dated. Take the essay where Daum gets a job with a publisher and complains about having to work on popular books rather than literary ones. With the economy and the state of publishing being what they are currently, I think most editorial assistants now realize that popular books are th [...]

    4. Esther

      So although I was initially irritated by Ms. Daum's class-consciousness and the pretentiousness of it, on the other hand I really identified with her need to analyze why she was where she was by examining the contextual details, the outer trappings. Her speciality is finding the "ness" of all kind of nesses, something that is a bit of a personal hobby of mine as well. Like analyzing the upper class behaviors of middle class kids who to go to school with upper class kids to explain why she as a s [...]

    5. Gadi

      I don't know why I identified with Daum. Maybe I'm also obsessed with the trappings of life rather than its substance. I, too, pick my dreams based on a material understanding of things -- I strive for a life of hardwood floors, intellectual conversations -- a life of doing things for the sake of living. I related to all of her essays, even the snarky, supercilious ones -- especially those. It's too bad that so many of GR reviewers vilified the snobbishness in the writing -- because that's what [...]

    6. Lori

      I first read and really liked Meghan Daum's essay, "Variations on Grief" in my non-fiction class. Also, I really like the essay, "On the Fringes of the Physical World." The essay, "My Misspent Youth" after which the book was titled is making me feel a lot better about the amount of debt I'm in, which seems to be less than the debt she was in at the time, and it's good to read a book of non-fiction by someone who wasn't like 88 years old when she decided to write it. Daum has an engaging voice, a [...]

    7. Holly

      Sometimes funny, sometimes clever, rarely particularly insightful. These are three-star essays, with the exception of "Inside the Tube" (a five-star read, even if it's a piece of journalism masquerading as essay): nothing too crazy, nothing too mundane, amusing enough, and Daum stays pretty damn honest. Her prose is pitch-perfect, but these are essays you'd read in magazines on planes. There's an audience here for Daum's brand of everywoman. It's just not me.

    8. L

      This was recommended as a good warning against living beyond one's means. Sometimes essays elucidate issues, and sometimes they show a much deeper view at the writer themselves, and I'd say that for this collection, it was the latter. I found myself making sour faces at the book as I was reading at just what a neurotic, snobbish, self-obsessed person she was. Also, her investigative journalism was really, really lacking as you could hear her condescension dripping off the page, especially in the [...]

    9. Trudy

      I Hated this book. Which is a funny thing to say, seeing as how the thing that bugged me about the book was how relentlessly negative and judgmental Daum was about almost every subject she undertook. By the end, I was just so weary of her hating/being better than everything, I couldn't wait for it to be over. Which was a shame, because the last essay was written (formatted?) really interestingly and appealingly, but the emotions involved were just so repulsive, that after the whole book of appro [...]

    10. notyourmonkey

      These essays' strengths are the author's skill in the writing craft - structure both in the macro (narrative) and micro (sentence) level. Damn can she pull an essay together. It's always nice to read someone who knows how to handle an ending. These essays' weaknesses are in the author's seeming inability to acknowledge her own failings without trying to justify those failings, in a backhanded, narrative-structure kind of way. I mean, good on her for actively acknowledging when she expresses idea [...]

    11. Fatima

      I have mixed feelings about these essays, I like the way she writes but I found the content to be boring at times like the airlines essay or the Ravenheart essay (my two least favorite ones). There is something about writing about being a writer in New York. You always find them complaining about how don’t care about making a lot of money while at the same time they rent apartments and want things that they can’t afford and I guess she admits that (they usually don’t) and I do like that.Qu [...]

    12. Anders

      quick&dirty: Meghan Daum is great; this is a volume of essays that hasn't aged well. Read the highlights featuring her signature radical honesty and skip the rest. Daum's voice in this 2001 book of essays has since come to constitute the dominant tone for borderline thinky online journalism with presumptions towards literariness. Her influence can be readily detected in places like the Hairpin, the Awl, the Believer, and Grantland, that peer into pockets of unrepentant oddity, narrative voic [...]

    13. Kaitlin

      Meghan Daum is definitely one of my favourite American essayists that I have read.She has a hilarious and sharp writing voice, and is able to relate her opinion clearly and discuss the events within her writing very concretely. It kind of doesn't matter what topic she is discussing because she seems to map out the story for you has you go along (as any good essayist should) and you will never feel lost or confused about "what's the point" in her writing. I always get excited when/if the writing [...]

    14. Kate

      2.5 star ratingI really liked the beginning of this book. The essays were really well put together and she made her point without taking out her nerf bat and beating the reader over the head with it, like she did in some of the essays towards the back, which I didn't particularly care for and why it took me so long to finish this darn book.The essays that I would recommend reading the book for are:1. Publishing and Other Near-Death Experiences2. Toy Children3. Inside The TubeThe others I would j [...]

    15. Nicole

      I started this book with the promise that it would make me say "Finally, someone gets how I feel".What was delivered was a mixture of "Yes, that's exactly it" but also sheer wonder and fascination to topics I had thought about, found repelling and not investigated further. With witty confusing and yet intriguing titles, some essays made me go "yes" and some others "oh.

    16. Liz

      This was pretty good and I'm sure I'll go back to re-read some of these essays. What struck me is how DATED some of these essays feel (published in 2001, I think?). Some of the observations are kind of like,no kidding.Oh, conducting a romantic relationship through e-mail is fraught with peril and involves projecting fantasies upon the other person, while also projecting an inauthentic version of yourself? Good heavens, you don't say.Flying in an airplane is quite possibly the most fake, artifici [...]

    17. Jonathan Norton

      Superb reprint of essays from the 90s, which are bearing up well. Only the one about on-line relationships (via email, rather than "social media", which wasn't yet a thing) is dated, and not terribly. In a new Foreword, Daum happily admits that the title essay got her flak at the time, with accusations of entitlement, narcissism etc. and she'd be attacked even more for a gross display of white privilege if she wrote it today. Essentially Lena Dunham made it into a sitcom. But she's simply being [...]

    18. Leslieann Santiago

      This book was interesting to say the least. I read it because I want to write a book of essays myself and read some really good reviews on it. However, I would not recommend this book to anyone. I did not like the author's personality or the tone of the book. I felt like she was judgmental and gave me the impression she thought she was better than a lot of people. My next issue was some of the pointless, ineffective chapters. Such as her chapter on carpets, which was basically shaming people who [...]

    19. Josh Friedlander

      If you've ever been captivated by the romance of the Manhattan publishing world and wished yourself to be living in an oak-floored pre-war brownstone, smoking and discussing art, literature and life with similarly-minded people, this book will give you a vicarious thrill while simultaneously disabusing you of those ideals (unless you have a trust fund, you will end up in horrendous debt, because NYC publishing jobs don't pay NYC publishing rent. Also, there are no jobs in publishing in 2014 anyw [...]

    20. Adam Armstrong

      Reading this for a second time, the portions I enjoyed before were equally--if not more--worthwhile, yet the sections that I once found dull, or less engaging, were heightened, and I was kind of trudging through them. With that said, Daum is so fantastic at mining her life for truths most people are afraid to admit to themselves, let alone out loud, and for that she has always remained an inspiration in my own writing. "On the Fringes of the Physical World," "Publishing and Other Near-Death Expe [...]

    21. Halley Sutton

      Very well-written essays that sometimes irritated me by the late 20sish (yes, I'm aware I'm 28) inability to accept passion or enthusiasm as anything other than "uncool." God forbid anyone should be engaged by anything in life other than being the TYPE of person who listens to NPR and prefers hardwood floors. But then, perhaps that was more about my own personal prejudices as a reader. Anyway, gets four stars because the last essay about grieving her friend is really, truly, deeply, complicatedl [...]

    22. Oriana

      One of Flavorpill's 25 Greatest Essay Collections of All Time: Daum dives head first into the culture and comes up with meat in her mouth. Her voice is fresh and her narratives daring, honest and endlessly entertaining.

    23. Lorri Steinbacher

      Based on the first couple of essays, I would have given it four stars as it hit all of my sweet spots. I felt the second half was uneven and I was downright uncomfortable with the last essay (certainly the intent). Daum comes across as completely self-aware at the same time that she seems clueless, which is ultimately all of us.

    24. Benjamin Siegel

      There are moments of great insight and attentiveness throughout, and some wonderful turns of phrase, but the voice is young and a bit angry and a bit muddled. I can't decide whether "American Shiksa" is brilliant or a bit offensive. But her later collection of essays, the Unthinkable, is sublime, which actually makes this kind of heartening to read -- see the difference that thirteen years makes.

    25. christa

      this book of essays is definitely one of my top five favorite books. especially the essay "my misspent youth" and "carpet is mungers." you can skip her novel, but sometimes her column in the LA Times is decent, too.

    26. Thomas

      Witty, observant, and self-deprecating, Daum's essays scratch that David Sedaris itch -- but without the goof factor. Does her point of view occasionally veer into narcissism? Well, OK. But isn't that the whole point of personal essays?

    27. Marieke

      I don't know. I liked a couple of the essays but mainly I didn't really get whether she was saying anything in them. The collection was not cohesive and that bothered me a bit too. I couldn't even finish the last two essays, which is why I'm doing two stars rather than three.

    28. Laura

      The author kind of needs to get over herself -- but I suppose that's the point of it all? Quick easy read though.

    29. Maggie

      Some keen observations, but the author is a bit too smug and self congratulatory when discussing her faults (almost as if they're positives simply because she names them). Quick listen though.

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