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How to Murder Your Life

Cover of How to Murder Your Life

How to Murder Your Life

A Memoir
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, 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 lighting-rod subject matter and bold literary aspirations, How to Murder Your Life is mesmerizing, revelatory, and necessary.
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, 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 lighting-rod subject matter and bold literary aspirations, How to Murder Your Life is mesmerizing, revelatory, and necessary.
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About the Author-
  • Cat Marnell is a Condé Nast drop-out and former beauty editor at Lucky and xoJane.com. She wrote the "Amphetamine Logic" column for Vice. How to Murder Your Life is her first book.
Reviews-
  • Publisher's Weekly

    January 2, 2017
    Marnell, a former beauty editor at Lucky magazine, devoted several decades and many tens of thousands of dollars to living a double life, captured in forensic detail in this “amphetamine memoir.” As a beauty intern, writer and later editor for Nylon, Teen Vogue, Glamour, and Lucky, Marnell inhabited a rarefied, high-heeled, and high-fashion world, but while doing so she was constantly high. Beneath her eating-disorder-thin figure beat the heart of a true addict. Hers is a New York crash-and-burn story, a slow-motion train wreck rescued from mere voyeurism by Marnell’s wit, impressive memory for people and vivid scenes, devastating honesty, and true gift with words. In the high-rise towers of Manhattan publishing, Marnell attends meetings on topics such as ”blonzer” (a beauty marriage between bronzer and blush); in the course of her work she meets her idol Courtney Love; but in her spare time she’s doctor-shopping, scoring any substance she can, and engaging in days-long benders that are exhausting and horrific simply to read about. Eventually, her memoir explains how a privileged, highly educated woman from a respectable family dug her way out from under the sheer volume of pills, coke, heroin, dangerous joyless sex, insecurity, depression, addiction, and next-level self-loathing exhaustively recorded here.

  • Kirkus

    December 15, 2016
    A memoir of addiction and the millennial high life. The short answer to the instruction implied in the title is this: do a lot of drugs, drink to excess, be flaky and unreliable on the job, and take stupid risks. A one-time junior fashionista--"I always wanted to be a beauty editor. To me, being a beauty editor was better than being president of the United States!"--Marnell checks off these obligations dutifully, having been trained by a childhood of privilege and bewildered, clueless parents ("My mom was in there--snooping!"). From the manicured suburbs to trendiest Manhattan is but a short step, with an infinitely more interesting medicine cabinet than the usual Ritalin regime. Landing a gig at, yes, a fashion magazine, Marnell soon developed an "amphetamine work ethic" and learned the ropes of the trade, including how to land Vicodin and Percocet and hide her habit effectively--at least at work ("I kept the orange bottles in the zipper pocket of my mom's Chloe Silverado bag--hidden away"). Naturally, the author also learned that the people who surrounded her chemical life were not the most dependable or nicest, four to a couch and doped to the gills ("ZZZZZZZ, one of the dudes snored. At least that meant he was alive"). Writing in her early 30s on the other side of it all, Marnell ends her account with the expected truisms ("Strong, healthy people just don't interest the sickos of the world as much") and Scarlett O'Hara-isms ("Someday I'll find a man who treats me right"). It's all delivered with studied earnestness and an eye to shock value, though there's not much left that can shock us in this sad world: not Japanese pornography and not the louche vision of addicts with Jean Paul Gaultier gym bags. What's missing is humor. Every generation needs its Carrie Fisher, perhaps even its Hunter S. Thompson, but this isn't it.

    COPYRIGHT(2016) Kirkus Reviews, ALL RIGHTS RESERVED.

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