Thursday, 10 March 2011

Emma Forrest: Your Voice in My Head


I do not like Emma Forrest. Her new autobiographical book is the story of her turbulent relationships with men and life and the death of the shrink that saved her. Your Voice in My Head follows Emma through several bad romances and one high profile relationship with an unnamed film star.

I do not like Emma Forrest. It was nine years ago that I stumbled across her novel Thin Skin, which I enjoyed immensely. Forrest writes with the fervour of an aged romantic, each word is authentic in its use and the plot structured in such a way that the creation of her world rises from the page like an all consuming vine which drags you in, slicing you with paper-cuts along the way.

I do not like Emma Forrest. Your Voice in My Head exposes her as a self loathing, yet narcissistic hot and sexy mess. The pages act as her blades, and once her story begins, the blood flows in a revelatory act so intensely honest that it is almost hard to believe. The thing is though no self-respecting woman would create such a putrid pdeudo-fantasy. Emma for the most part, skates on thin ice, where the cold clutches of suicide lurk beneath. You can identify with her as she struggles to recognise the root of her misery, yet the brutal self-harm and suicidal tendencies will appeal to a niche market longing to read books by someone like them. Hence, why I saw this book in WH Smith filed next to Rhonda Byrne’s The Secret, in the self-help section. Silvia Plath is the only other novelist that springs to mind when reading YVMH and we all know what happened to her.

I do not like Emma Forrest. She drops names, like the heroine of her first novel Viva Cohen, (Namedropper). She sees Susan Sarandon on her bike and stops to ask her advice. She lives in Heath Ledger’s old beach house and shares the New York Times with him over coffee. She strikes up a romance with GH and you only have to Google Emma Forrest to find out who he his. If I wrote a book on my life, I would be dropping names like this…

“I saw Kate O Mara in town, she looked like an old cat.”

“I saw Ken Barlow from Coronation Street standing outside Marks and Spencer’s, I didn’t say anything.”

“I saw a local theatre production of Jesus Christ Superstar and sat next to Jesus’s mum”

However, I am not a famous writer and I live in Yorkshire whereas Emma Forrest is a successful writer and lives a relatively privileged life in Los Angeles.

I do not like Emma Forrest. She is the anti-Carrie Bradshaw (whose entire philosophy is detestably vacuous) with a penchant for sharp instruments and counselling over shoes and futile shit. She is the curly wurly Courtney Love of literature – A loose cannon of candour that, with every turn of the page, blows up in your face. The book contains sparse moments of poignancy that serve to remind you that she is, like all women, somebody’s daughter. The loving relationship she has with her parents is affecting, particularly in the wake of Emma’s extremities. Amidst the bluntness and sincerity, there is a great sense of humour most of which stems from her father, who, it has to be said, is like the best seventies british sitcom that never happened. Thank God, the suicides and self harm didn’t finish off Emma Forrest. Everything happens for a reason and her desperate hours enabled her to produce something that can only be described as un-put-down-able and downright incredible.

I do not like Emma Forrest. I absolutely fucking love her. She was born to write and I cannot wait to read
about her happy new beginnings. Forrest herself has an exquisite literary voice, that was a pleasure to have in my head.

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