I haven’t written about Maureen Dowd in a dog’s age. She used to be fun to write about, because she was so deliciously whacked out, but increasingly, I found myself feeling badly for the woman and wanting to help her out. I toned down my words and really tried to convey what I thought was sympathetic advice, one Irish gal to another, especially back last Christmas, when she really sounded undone and rather heartbroken.
She never seemed to take all that good advice, though, so I stopped tendering it!
This time, though, I do wish she’d listen. I have just finished her latest book, Are Men Necessary? and while it really is a train-wreck of a book – as bad as everyone says – there is a hint of something in it that could put Dowd back on track, if she is interested. There is a hint of something in the book that could make Dowd a great writer, again, instead of a great whiner.
The thing is, Dowd wrote the wrong book. She took all of her anger at having been duped by the feminist elites, whose theories have collapsed under the weight of their own soggy estrogen, and all of her anger at men in general, and all of her anger at women who do not burn with her passionate feminist intensity, and all of her anger at simple biology and all of her anger at (of course) George W. Bush and dumped it into this 338-page adolescent shriek…and all I can say is – I hope she’s gotten it out of her system and we don’t have to read this crap anymore, because it’s pointless, and it keeps Dowd stuck on a mobius that is going to drive her mad if she can’t find a way off.
We’ve got it, Maureen, we’ve GOT it! “Kick men’s butts…women are great…men are only great if they’re like women, but only if they’re the right sorts of women. All references to pop-culture or baby boomer cultural icons are clever references! You like Emma Peel. The Catholic church is full of awful men and mean to women. George W. Bush is the worst person ever born out of a woman and his mother must be evil, too…you’re lonely…conservatives suck and they are stupid…and George Bush bites the big one. You utterly and completely hate him. And his father. And his dog.”
Okay, got that out of your system, now?
Try, Ms. Dowd, try to get it out of your system, at least long enough to write another 338 pages…but instead of writing your usual, way-overplayed and whiney tripe, I hope you will try to write the book you should have written this time around. A book that should not contain the words “men” or “me” or “Bush” at all, and it should not contain a single reference to a movie, or television or pop music. Because honey, you need to focus on something different – you need to break out of your rut, and your unhealthy obsessions.
Write a book about the three women whom you clearly loved and admired and miss. Write a book about your mother, and Katharine Graham, and Mary McGrory.
Because I have to tell you, in the whole silly exercise of Are Men Necessary?, the only time you were readable, likable and still clearly in control of your pen was when you were writing about these three women, and you made the reader want to read more.
You’ve been too long naval-gazing, too long in the throes of a mental masturbation that seemed unable to find release. Consider Are Men Necessary? your primal scream sans-orgasm or whatever, and for crying out loud, CHANGE THE SUBJECT.
I’m offering this advice as a woman and a writer and an Irish girl with her own obsessions. I’m quite certain that if we ever met, you would not like me. I’m pretty sure I’d have a hard time taking you seriously, too. But sincerely, in the spirit of Christmas, consider this a free consult – a gift from a decent editor who knows when a wad has been shot and it’s time to close a chapter.
Turn off the word processor, and use the Internet only for research. Buy yourself a nice pen with a quill – get a bottle of purple ink, in a lovely pewter stand. Buy excellent, creamy paper and start a book in which rancor and the sneer of distaste have no place. Get back in touch with the physical act of writing. Fall in love with words, again. Write it in longhand, as did the Brontes, and Jane Austin and Louisa May Alcott. Use your good penmanship, to get in touch with the fore-mothers. And write from a place of love, instead of a place of hate. Write with admiration instead of scorn. Force yourself, if your short biographies require that you mention people you dislike, to find a charitable means of doing so.
It could be a great, and lasting book. It could re-introduce you to readers who have long-since given up on you as a Janie One-Note. Writing with an idea of enlarging your heart and extending a little good-will could exorcise some demons. It could make you whole. It could, perhaps, set you free.
And it will memorialize three women who deserve it. What’s bad, here?
Hell, I’ll even edit it for you. Seriously. If “sisterhood” is more than feel-good rhetoric, then a conservative woman and a liberal one should be able to forge a successful working relationship, and you would have a tremendous advantage with me in that I really want you to write the book and really want you to succeed with it. And I am not interested in being your friend or knowing anyone you know, so I’ll be utterly honest at all times. I would do it via email. Anonymously, of course.
Somewhere in your Catholic background, you learned about gifts and how they are used. You have one, and you’ve been wasting it on worldly and fleeting things. Write something out of love. It will last, as love does.