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The Unspeakable: And Other Subjects of Discussion    by Meghan Daum order for
by Meghan Daum
Order:  USA  Can
Picador, 2015 (2014)
Hardcover, Softcover, CD, e-Book
*   Reviewed by Bob Walch

Meghan Daum has been mentioned in the same breath as Joan Didion, which is rather presumptuous to say the least, but her collected essays have garnered a few literary prizes such as the 2015 PEN Center USA Award, so she is a voice that has attracted some attention.

Daum's essays have appeared in various magazines (The New Yorker, The Atlantic and Vogue) and besides being an opinion columnist for the Los Angeles Times, she is also an adjunct professor in the writing program at Columbia University's School of the Arts.

This latest collection of ten essays covers what the author calls 'some pretty unflattering behavior on my part'; thus one can't say she didn't warn the reader ahead of time.

The titles of these short pieces suggest the range of these disclosures and they stretch from Matricide, Honorary Dyke and The Joni Mitchell Problem to The Dog Exception and On Not Being a Foodie.

Daum is a talented writer but does anyone really care enough about her personal life to be willing to purchase a book like this? Excluding her students, there must be a large enough group of followers to merit the publication of this book. Frankly, that's a mystery to me, but so be it!

Insisting that these essays are not confessions but rather 'events recounted in the service of ideas', Daum explains in the book's introduction the aim of publishing her thoughts in this manner:

'My aim was to judiciously choose and arrange episodes that might build upon one another and add up to something interesting enough to warrant the time it takes to read about them, and while some of the details I include may be shocking enough to suggest that I'm spilling my guts, I can assure you that for every one of these details there are hundreds I've chosen to leave out.'

Well, I guess we can be grateful she didn't bare her soul completely!

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