Trainwreck: The Women We Love to Hate, Mock, and Fear... and Why

Sady Doyle. Melville House, $25.95 (288p) ISBN 978-1-61219-563-6
Pop-culture commentator Doyle launches a ruthlessly funny, smart, and relentlessly on-point takedown of modern misogyny in this feminist anatomy of celebrity “trainwrecks” and the “appetite for specifically female ruin and suffering” that fuels entire venues of popular entertainment. Contemplating her subjects’ crimes (having sex, having needs, having opinions) and her subjects’ options (self-destruct, disappear, or risk the continual public fury to which a woman who refuses to be shamed, silenced, or stopped is exposed), Doyle compiles portraits including those of historical figures such as Charlotte Brontë and midcentury icons such as Billie Holiday and Sylvia Plath to such contemporary subjects of spectacle as Amy Winehouse, Whitney Houston, and Britney Spears. She surmises that the train wreck earns hatred for violating the rules of “good” behavior. But in her profiles of non-self-immolating women such as Harriet Jacobs, Hillary Clinton, and the French revolutionary Theroigne de Mericourt, Doyle suggests that the revulsion is stirred not by the train wreck’s questionable behavior but by the fact of her being a visible, vocal female. Doyle’s book is really an exposé of persistent cultural pathologies about women and sex, a “200-year-old problem” of enforcing myths about good behavior that essentially prevent women from being the subjects of their own lives. With compassion for its subjects and a vibrantly satirical tone, Doyle’s debut book places her on the A-list of contemporary feminist writers. (Sept.)
Reviewed on: 07/18/2016
Release date: 09/20/2016
Genre: Nonfiction
Paperback - 352 pages - 978-1-61219-648-0
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Audio book sample courtesy of Penguin Random House Audio
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