Title: The Unspeakable: And Other Subjects of Discussion
Author: Meghan Daum
First published November 18, 2014
256 pages, Hardcover
ISBN: 9780374280444 (ISBN10: 0374280444)
Meghan Daum’s The Unspeakable is a thought-provoking collection of personal essays that will leave you both laughing and introspective. With razor-sharp precision, Daum skewers the marriage-industrial complex, reveals the absurdities of the New Age search for the “Best Possible Experience,” and champions the merits of cream-of-mushroom-soup casserole.
But she also delves into the unspeakable thoughts many of us harbor, like not loving our parents enough or feeling like life’s pleasures are more like chores. Through it all, Daum searches for an authentic self in a world where achieving an identity is never simple or complete.
With a voice that echoes Joan Didion’s piercing insight and Nora Ephron’s humor, Daum dissects our culture’s most dangerous illusions, blind spots, and sentimentalities while retaining her own joy and compassion. The Unspeakable will leave you questioning your own assumptions and beliefs, and laughing all the while.
About the Author
Meghan Daum is a writer who has authored several books, including Life Would Be Perfect If I Lived In That House, which talks about her obsession with real estate and houses. She has also written a novel called The Quality of Life Report and an essay collection called My Misspent Youth.
For the last 16 years, she has been writing a column for The Los Angeles Times, which is published every Thursday on the op-ed page. Meghan has contributed to various radio shows, including Morning Edition, Marketplace, and This American Life.
She has also written for many publications, such as The New Yorker, Harper’s, and Vogue.
Meghan is known for her unique style, which combines reporting, storytelling, and satire. Her work has provoked controversy over various issues, including social politics, class divides, and the meaning behind shag carpets.
While some have praised her work, others have criticized it, but regardless, Meghan’s work has been included in many college textbooks and anthologies.
Meghan was born in California in 1970 and grew up primarily on the east coast. She went to Vassar College and then completed her MFA writing program at Columbia University’s School of the Arts.
She spent several years in New York City before moving to Nebraska in 1999, where she continued her career as a writer and wrote The Quality of Life Report. Meghan has also taught at various institutions, including the California Institute for the Arts, where she taught graduate nonfiction writing as a visiting artist in 2004.
Meghan currently lives in Los Angeles with her husband, Alan Zarembo, and their sheepdog, Rex.
The Unspeakable: And Other Subjects of Discussion by Meghan Daum is a collection of essays that showcases the author’s mastery of the genre. Published on November 18, 2014, the book contains eleven essays that explore a wide range of topics, including identity, relationships, and mortality, among others.
Meghan Daum is a celebrated author and essayist known for her keen insights and sharp wit. She has written several books, including My Misspent Youth, The Quality of Life Report, and Life Would Be Perfect If I Lived in That House.
In The Unspeakable, Daum offers a candid and thought-provoking commentary on life in contemporary America. The essays in The Unspeakable are a mixture of personal memoir and cultural commentary.
Daum reflects on her own experiences as a writer, daughter, and woman, while also offering astute analysis of contemporary issues such as feminism, social media, and the cult of self-help. Each essay is beautifully written, with wit, honesty, and a deep sense of humanity.
While each essay in the book is unique, they all share similar themes of identity, authenticity, and self-expression. In “Difference Maker,” Daum writes about her experience as a Gen Xer, struggling to find her place in a world dominated by millennials.
In “The Best Possible Experience,” she reflects on the pressures of modern-day parenting and the realization that perfection is impossible. These essays are a testament to Daum’s skill as a writer and her ability to illuminate the complexities of contemporary American life.
One of the strengths of The Unspeakable is the range of topics covered in the book. From her reflections on death and grieving in “Matricide” to her critique of the self-help industry in “Honorary Lesbian,” Daum covers subjects that are deeply meaningful and relevant to modern-day readers.
Her writing style is engaging, and she has a knack for finding the perfect turn of phrase to convey complex thoughts and emotions. Another strong point of the book is Daum’s ability to connect with readers on a personal level.
Her essays are personal without being self-indulgent, and she has a way of making readers feel as though she is speaking directly to them. This is especially true in essays like “Difference Maker” and “The Best Possible Experience,” where she writes about issues that are common to many readers.
Despite its many strengths, The Unspeakable is not without its flaws. At times, some of the essays feel disjointed, and the book would have benefitted from a clearer sense of structure.
Additionally, some readers may find Daum’s writing style too intellectual or academic, which could limit the book’s broader appeal. Overall, The Unspeakable: And Other Subjects of Discussion is a beautifully crafted collection of essays by a talented writer.
It offers readers a unique and poignant reflection on contemporary American life, exploring themes that are universal and deeply resonant. Despite its minor flaws, this book is a must-read for anyone interested in the power and potential of the personal essay genre.
Score: 8 out of 10.