Gone Girl Book Review for Arena on RTÉ Radio One

Image via Crown Publishing

Image via Crown Publishing

We have to wait until June 5th to find out if Gillian Flynn’s wildly enjoyable Gone Girl pips the all-conquering  Bringing Up the Bodies by Hilary Mantel to the literary post in this year’s Women’s Prize for Fiction (formerly the Orange Prize).

Thus far, Gone Girl has been snubbed by major awards in the US, supposedly because the book is strictly speaking a thriller and therefore less than literary, a stance I wholly disagree with. A win for Glynn in June would be entirely deserved. She has managed to create a book that combines and transcends traditional genres and is packed with the type of blistering prose any author would be proud of, literary or otherwise.

Luckily for me, I was asked to review Gone Girl for Arena, RTÉ Radio One’s nightly arts and culture show presented by Sean Rocks, the fruits of which you can enjoy below or above by clicking on the speaker icon.

Gone Girl Review for RTÉ Radio 1 Arena

And if you if fancy a written review of the book, here’s one I did for the fabulous Fanny.ie.

Why Cameron Diaz Is Wrong: Being Objectified Is Never A Compliment

I’d like to begin this piece with something of a caveat: I have always liked Cameron Diaz. From her interviews and performances, she comes across as warm, smart and aware of her own worth, while also having the ability to laugh at herself, which is a perilous tightrope to walk in any profession but especially so in the egomaniac world of cinema.

So, you can imagine my disappointment when I read the comments from her recent interview with the Sunday Times, in which she says, “I think every woman does want to be objectified. There’s a little part of you at all times that hopes to be somewhat objectified, and I think it’s healthy… ”

Oh, Cameron. To begin with, the minute you try to speak for ‘every’ of anything, you’re trodding on dangerous ground. Throw the objectification of women into the mix, a process that reduces half the human race from the status of a person to that of dead-eyed objects, then you’re royally in the soup.

The simple truth is this: objectification hurts women. It silences our voices, paints over our thoughts, stamps out our souls, leaving a mute, blank canvas onto which our culture can project some of its darkest stereotypes and myths. When we raise women to see themselves only as things to be desired by men and to judge themselves accordingly, as if nothing else about them truly matters, we are committing a terrible wrong.

In the interview, Cameron claims she feels “empowered” by photoshoots and isn’t bothered about stripping off. She says, “I’m not some young girl with the photographer going, ‘Will you take your clothes off?’ I’m like [mimes stripping], ‘How does this look?’ They’re like, ‘Today we’re not going to put anything other than bras and heels on you,’ and I’m like, ‘These heels are not high enough.'”

What of that hypothetical young girl Cameron mentions and the countless young girls who read or will read these quotes? Being objectified is not a compliment. No one ever changed the world because they learned to walk in heels that require a pilot’s licence. Jumping up and down to participate in your own objectivation is generally not a good look.

As a woman who has achieved so much and generated enormous revenues for her chosen industry, Cameron Diaz should have nothing to prove. At 40, she is among the last remaining box office super stars and is one of the best comedic actresses of her generation, which makes her remarks all the more depressing. Despite all our advances, for women in the public eye and beyond, it still comes back to our bodies and what men think of them, a fact that is as tragic as it tedious.

This article originally appeared in the Huffington Post

Skinny By Any Means: Why Are Women Told To Starve Themselves?

Is there anything worse than food poisoning? Quite possibly, yes, but when you’re in the throes of its horrors it is difficult to imagine a nastier state.  Fortunately for me, I’m finally crawling out from under the food poisoning rock, which began explosively on Sunday night and left me in a weak, aching heap for two days. Being too sick to eat however has its high points, as my friends (tongue-in-cheek) pointed out: you lose weight! And that’s good, right?

Norma was going to eat the damn sandwich, enjoy the damn sandwich & she didn't give a twopenny hoop what anyone else thought about it!

Well , of course it isn’t. The fact that I was sick negates surely any ‘benefits’, at least to my mind, but the idea that ‘skinny by any means is a worthy pursuit’ persists culturally. How many times a day do we see headlines screeching about the latest fad diet or exercise regime or miracle supplement? How many times are celebrities – who have the finances and time to overindulge their physiques -used to exemplify the perfect body? Too many, I suspect, too many even for the most sane woman not to find herself goaded into thinking, at least for a moment or two, ‘wow, I really should skip dinner/ run  for three miles a day/ go on that diet where you eat nothing but cabbage soup.’

‘Skinny by any means’ ideal is not just silly, it is dangerous. Fad diets might might help you lose weight in the short term but study after study shows the weight lost is inevitably put back on, not forgetting the nutritional and metabolic problems some of these diets cause. Extreme exercise without proper training and warming/up down is not a recipe for fitness but one for injury and defeat. None of this is a road map to health but that doesn’t stop the media churning out images and messages to the contrary. After all, if people accepted the simple, scientifically proven facts of eating less, doing more and consuming a varied diet high in fruit and veg and low in processed foods, well, who’d buy the diet books? And where would we be then?

Part of me reluctantly acknowledges there are people who would elect to have food poisoning if it meant they lost a few pounds, just like folk who mess around with laxatives, eat nothing but popcorn for weeks or exist in a haze of cigarettes and coffee (or worse) to make sure they stay on the right side of thin. In this zany world of ours, we reward women for basically starving themselves and chastise those who don’t. Honestly, if you asked me which was sicker: food poisoning or our culture, I know which one I’d chose. Sadly, it isn’t the one you cure by resting up and taking plenty of fluids. Oh ladies and gentlemen, if only it were that simple.