Monday, July 25, 2005

THE COMPELLING STORY OF THE GIRL WHO STILL WORRIES ABOUT HER WEIGHT



There are 18 million blogs in existence. I find this fact overwhelming and unfortunate.

Consider that there are 18 million people who deem their opinion and musings worthy enough to share in a public forum. People like me who use the Internet as a frequent opportunity to speak their minds. Ideally, that would be the case but after spending a dabble or two on the Internet, I can't find a lot of that mind. Oh--the thought-provoking websites are most definitley out there but they're not getting the attention and the book deals that come along with it.

An article in yesterday's New York Times confirmed this for me. Stephanie Klein, the Sarah Jessica Parker-version of the Internet has a blog called Greek Tragedy. Stephanie spends her nights gallivanting about the City and then updates her blog about her dating life and daily encounters and intimacies. Her writing is not particularly bad but it's full of spelling mistakes and clichéd analogies (of which we are all guilty). But again, this is not what bothers me about Klein and her ilk. Truthfully, Stephanie, like me, is a blogger. There's no harm in simply blogging. The only difference between us is that she has an audience. In fact, her audience is so devoted that they've helped her ensure a two-book deal from Reagan Books. Stephanie Klein, a regular girl living in Manhattan who has weight insecurity and a pretty decent social life, offers all details of her life unabashedly as if there was nothing sacred about privacy (remember when girls were young and they wouldn't let anyone read their diaries?).

I have never met Klein before but I do know that she still worries about her weight but "somehow manages not to puke up [her] food after every meal like most of Manhattan," that she lost her virginity to Eric Fink, she spends posts ruminating on the deepness of Coldplay lyrics, she calls people “dude” and begin many conversations with YO and she believes, of all things, in karma.
In other words, there's nothing particularly unique about Stephanie Klein. Nothing at all. She has not saved lives. She hasn't even thought about medical school. She doesn't post about charities or the disease she fought with all her courage. Nope. Stephanie likes Martha Stewart, bites her nails, and keeps a blog because she has to. After all, she has what it takes (her words, not mine).

Ironically, Stephanie points out my exact problem with her blog, and so many others, with this paragraph:

"I wrote honestly, uncensored, without self-consciousness because whenever I’d read anything that moved me, I realized it was the truth the writer revealed that evoked such an emotional reaction. Even now, posting this, I struggled. I had to honor the honesty written here, but I was afraid by posting this it was admitting some kind of success. I worried it would be seen as a self-indulgent and haughty effort at self-everything."

Stephanie is worried about being self-indulgent but acts so on a daily, committed basis. And this is why she has two memoirs to produce. Tellingly, in sharing her news with the world regarding her book deal, she entitles her post "My Most Obnoxious Post." You said it yourself.

Ultimately, what bothers me about Stephanie's vapid blog and many others like hers (I am by no means entitling myself to the position of Important Blogger - for God's sake, I posted about Tom Cruise and a talking Budweiser the other day) is the perpetuation of minutiae and meaninglessness. And especially the "humility" that comes along with it is disingenuous and cringe-worthy.

"I feel like I shouldn't be writing about this because it means I'm admitting something. No one wants to read about how it feels do they? I mean, people like reading what they can relate to, so my writing about being recognized, loved more, plagued with more anonymous inconsideration... well, frankly, who cares? But then, this isn't about you, so f*** it.

It's enough to make you resent the whole memoir genre. Aren't there more people out there doing more interesting things? And why are we rewarding the ones that are not them?

12 Comments:

Anonymous Anonymous said...

You are 10x a better writer. She is, as you wrote, nothing special. I know her and have spoke with her several times -- cliche, cliche, cliche, with a touch of narcassism.

10:52 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I, for one, am with you and will be the first person to buy your book if you ever write one.

8:19 AM  
Blogger Arye said...

Awww, thank you, Anonymous and Anonymous. You're both too kind but also both anonymous.

10:58 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

i don't get you. i'd figure someone in blogging would understand it. instead you look to prejudge and hold people to a standard that is unattainable and that you would never reach yourself. i've read stephanie klein's blog and about her. she's been doing it for years not just a fad. she posted how when she was like 5 years old she knew and wrote she wanted to be a writer. have you been that dedicated? she has people comment that they were in a writing class with her recently. she tries to better her craft, do you? do you know how long it takes to get a book deal? the work that goes into it? it had to be before the blog was really popular. so differentiate her from the blog for a second. she found her life to be something to write about and funny/endearing. david sedaris writes about neighbors who don't celebrate christmas. does that make him what's wrong with society? publishing? accept it for what it is. a blog that she writes on every day. do you understand how difficult that is? and you critique it rather than embrace and give her some slack? couldn't she have tried to monetize the site? find a way to see what people try to do right sometime. you may live longer.

11:10 AM  
Blogger Arye said...

I'm sorry I touched a nerve, Stephanie. I'm not prejudging. I've actually spent a great deal of time reading Greek Tragedy so I'm informed in my opinion. My job is to be a critic--this post is simply doing what I do.
I never said Klein was a fad or questioned her desire to be a writer. I’m just saying that I wanted to be a policeman when I was 5. We shouldn't always be what we hoped we would be when we were so young.
And now my answers to your questions:
1. Yes, I try to be dedicated.
2. I try to better my craft always.
3. Getting a book deal is never measured in a definitive period of time. Sometimes it takes months, sometimes years, sometimes a few blog postings. People are lucky. Others are not.
4. Yes. I have many friends in publishing. Writing a book is hard. I'm not sure if that's the same for Chick Lit but it could be.
5. Differentiating her from her blog is ridiculous. Klein got her book deal because of her blog. End of story. She is her blog. Her blog is she. There is no difference. They both love Martha Stewart.

Interesting that you bring up Sedaris. He has an essay in this week's New Yorker that I found to be mind-numbingly dumb. Sedaris' well has run dry and now he writes about absolute stupidity. Which is a shame. His writing used to be smart and poignant. Now it is drippings from a dried prune. I believe he is dumbing his readers down by continuing to write his memoirs. I say, enough. Prove yourself to be a true writer and write a novel.

6. Society? No.
7. Publishing? Yes. But we all knew that already.
8. Do I understand how difficult what is? Blogging? Hmm, you answer that one.
9. Again, I will not embrace Klein because I cannot condone her style of writing. And furthermore, I can't imagine her musings are that important enough that we need two books for them.
10. Monetize? Uhhh...she has.

Thank you so much for sharing your thoughts and also, thank you for your suggestion for living longer. I will take into consideration along with a proper diet and exercise.

12:03 PM  
Blogger Shlomo Schwartz said...

Oops, didn't mean to be anonymous.

I, for one, am with you and will be the first person to buy your book if you ever write one.

2:24 PM  
Anonymous Naomi! said...

I didn't read anything you wrote in this entry or any of the ones below, but I am excited that you've added the Post a Comment feature! When I used to read bbs more diligently, I wished there was a forum for my opinions on Arye's opinions.

4:38 PM  
Anonymous judi said...

Aren't there more people out there doing more interesting things? And why are we rewarding the ones that are not them?

I'm doing many more interesting things. But no one really wants to hear about how I'm curing cancer, trekking through the rainforest, teaching my dog to play the oboe and creating a high protein chocolate bar- and that's just before lunch today. People would rather read about my inane day-to-day bs & see silly video clips of some kid jumping down the stairs.

Arye, blogs were invented in order to keep people like you, me... and Stephanie... out of more serious trouble. Just ask any law enforcement agent- they'll tell you straight out.

If you're looking for feedback and a little bit of encouragement, I've got to tell you that you've got a long way to go before you reach the narcisitic stratosphere that Greek Tragedy calls home. And I think you write much better than David Sedaris- because he's been pretty bad lately. Exactly what was the point of that GQ story? I hope they didn't pay too much for it.

Now quit whining and get back to your writing. I expect to see a book from you sometime soon.

10:48 AM  
Blogger SexandMoxie said...

I think you can be interesting and provocative without being over the top self-indulgent. I write a similar blog to Ms. Klein's, but I was recently interviewed about why I do it. My blog revolves around sex and dating...but not just my sex life or social life. That after a while just gets...well...cliche. And really boring. Everyone is doing it, as they say. I blog because I get off hearing what my readers have to say TO EACH OTHER. I like the idea of getting people to interact. I've read Greek Tragedy...but it doesn't grab me. She a great writer and has a wonderful voice...but I just don't care enough about her to tune in daily mainly because she seems to be believing her own hype.

Great blog, BTW.

Moxie
sexandmoxie.blogspot.com

5:39 PM  
Anonymous kelsicunningham@yahoo.com said...

KC

3:38 AM  
Anonymous kelsicunningham@yahoo.com said...

The third "anonymous" comment is most likely from Phil, Stephanie's fuck du jour. His writing style is very recognizable and he ALWAYS defends her writing and comments about how she could make money on it but didn't. Who would pay to read that shit? I can't even believe that people who adore her and kiss up to her writing are going to buy it. She's a self-absorbed cunt. End of story.

Seriously though, since I got an email from Phil, who was defending her like HIS fuck du jour depended on it, I would bet my last dollar that it's him who wrote that. What a dick.

You should write to him and ask him directly: Phil31@aol.com or Phil31@gmail.com

Later,

KC

3:38 AM  
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6:59 AM  

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