This fab non-fiction book is pretty much an extension of Emily Clarkson’s blog. And boy, what a blog. No wonder she got snapped up to create this – her writing on Pretty Normal Me is fresh, honest and witty, she makes you want to be her friend, and every triumph and mini-disaster she describes is so damn relatable.
Can I Speak to Someone in Charge? is a collection of letters addressed directly to people or things that Emily needs to get something off her chest about. She’s warm about her friendships, scathing about Topshop’s frankly ridiculous sizing policy, and hilariously real about the body – be it weight, hair, or how it looks in lycra. Emily mocks the predictable Facebook friends we all have and are so over, berates those with nothing better to do with their life than troll people online, and is utterly endearing when it comes to talking about her eating disorder. Feminist literature historians of the future will look back on this book and see evidence of the real concerns facing young women, articulated both seriously (page 3, feminist activism and female representation in films are covered) and also with immense humour and first person experience. I particularly like the section on prosecco, which starts with the sentence – ‘where the fuck do I start?’ We’ve all been there…
Although this is about lovely Emily and her book, I’d like to, if I may, make this about me for a second. At the end of 2016 I was overjoyed to be signed to a literary agent, but after my first non-fiction book about university didn’t get picked up (and wasn’t really pushed by them), they said they didn’t have confidence to sell my next book idea about blogging as ‘digital stuff’ wasn’t their thing. They then unceremoniously dropped me on my birthday (thanks). Before then, they’d told me to get some endorsements from big bloggers to help pitch the book, and everyone I approached said hell yes, and thought my idea was what blogging needed. With some bloggers I had to wait a while for their quote (which was fine, I was just ecstatic they were on board), with Emily she not only agreed within minutes of me messaging her, but she sent the quote there and then, was amazingly friendly and encouraging, and this was on the same morning she was appearing on TV show This Morning to promote her own book. In a world where so many creative types are suspicious of sharing ideas or unwilling to help others up the ladder in case someone overtakes them (or whatever their weird reasons are), Emily was an absolute star and even offered to meet up to offer advice once the book got picked up. Which it didn’t, because I have no agent now. But in 2018 I am determined to find an agent who ‘gets’ that bloggers like books too, and don’t want to just read online, and then I can also meet Emily if her offer still stands heh heh.
Can I Speak to Someone in Charge? is the perfect book to pop in your bag and read on tube journeys, little bite-sized chapters that will make you laugh, seethe, nod your head in agreement, and get you thinking about female experience in the twenty-first century. I highly recommend.