I pull Moranthology by award-winning British columnist and book author Caitlin Moran out of a Fully Booked plastic bag so I can, well, read it. To be honest, I have never heard of Caitlin Moran before now, and pulling it out of the bag reveals a quote on the cover from Marie Claire proclaiming Moran as “The U.K.’s answer to Tina Fey, Chelsea Handler and Lena Dunham rolled into one.” This raises an eyebrow. An ambitious claim, if there ever was one.
But I open Moranthology to the first page, and am pleasantly surprised that Caitlin Moran is really funny–effortlessly so, with her quick ramblings about mundane things like rancid lemon cake stuffed into a suitcase, without so much as a wink to the reader, that “see what I did there” set-up common among the less funny. Time and again, the words just tumble out of her, and you catch yourself reading with a smirk on your face. Moran achieves the blending of two realizations that good comedians help you arrive at, the thoughts of: “Yes, I know exactly how that feels!” and “Whoa, I never saw it that way!”
But the really cool thing is how, in her humor, there are big questions being thrown out, disguised as jokes. For example, she ponders on the non-existence of a watershed event for gay rights, a “Gay Moon Landing”, if you would: “Maybe I don’t have to look for a Gay Moon Landing, after all. As someone on Twitter pointed out, ‘The Moon Landing itself is pretty gay. A close knit group of guys land in a silver rocket, make a really dramatic speech, and then they spend half an hour jumping up and down? Please.'”
There’s also the part where she mentions her addiction to “skunk weed” that had her smoking marijuana increasingly at “borderline industrial intensity” using a Coke can and later a fish tank as bongs. “I started smoking weed when I was seventeen, because that is just what you do if you like the Beatles. If this were America, I could probably now sue Paul McCartney, wholly on this basis… Do I regret spending four years off my face? No, not really–but only because I can’t really remember any of it.”
But even though Moran delves into heavy matters once in a while, she retains an air of levity that makes her work a page-turner, in the joyous sense of the description. As she introduces her collection of essays, she lets you in on why there is an optimistic tone to it all–it is her belief that life is good. And perhaps this is why she is as refreshingly humorous as she is: “The motto I have penned on my knuckles is that this is the best world we have–because it’s the only world we have. It’s the simplest math ever… There is always a moment where you boggle at the world–at yourself–at the whole, unlikely, precarious business of being alive–and start laughing.”
Having cut her teeth in the ’90s as a teenage contributor to London’s The Observer and The Guardian, and as a music critic on Melody Maker, by the age of eighteen she became a journalist for The Times. Moran has clearly taken years to sharpen her craft. And now that her second book is out, on the heels of her first–a New York Times bestseller–it’s safe to say that Caitlin Moran’s time has come.