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How to Be Famous
Cover of How to Be Famous
How to Be Famous
A Novel
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A Library Journal Best Book of 2018

Johanna Morrigan (aka Dolly Wilde) has it all: she is nineteen, lives in her own flat in London, and writes for the coolest music magazine in Britain. Her star is rising, just not quickly enough for her liking.

Then John Kite, Johanna's unrequited love, has an album go to number one. Suddenly John exists on another plane of reality: that of the Famouses, a world of rabid fans and VIP access. Johanna lacks the traditional trappings of fame (famous parents, mind-scorching hotness, exotic scandals, etc.), so she does the only thing a self-respecting Lady Sex Adventurer can do. She starts a magazine column critiquing the lives and follies of the Famouses around her. But as Johanna skyrockets to fame herself, she begins to realize that with celebrity comes sacrifice, and hers may mean giving up the one person she was determined to keep.

For anyone who has been a girl or known one, who has admired fame or judged it, How to Be Famous is a big-hearted, hilarious tale of fame and fortune—and all that they entail.

A Library Journal Best Book of 2018

Johanna Morrigan (aka Dolly Wilde) has it all: she is nineteen, lives in her own flat in London, and writes for the coolest music magazine in Britain. Her star is rising, just not quickly enough for her liking.

Then John Kite, Johanna's unrequited love, has an album go to number one. Suddenly John exists on another plane of reality: that of the Famouses, a world of rabid fans and VIP access. Johanna lacks the traditional trappings of fame (famous parents, mind-scorching hotness, exotic scandals, etc.), so she does the only thing a self-respecting Lady Sex Adventurer can do. She starts a magazine column critiquing the lives and follies of the Famouses around her. But as Johanna skyrockets to fame herself, she begins to realize that with celebrity comes sacrifice, and hers may mean giving up the one person she was determined to keep.

For anyone who has been a girl or known one, who has admired fame or judged it, How to Be Famous is a big-hearted, hilarious tale of fame and fortune—and all that they entail.

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Recommended for you

About the Author-
  • Caitlin Moran's debut book, How to Be a Woman, was an instant New York Times bestseller. Her first novel, How to Build a Girl, received widespread acclaim. She lives in London. You can follow Caitlin on Twitter: @caitlinmoran

Reviews-
  • Library Journal

    February 1, 2018

    Moran followed her award-winning, New York Times best-selling feminist memoir, How To Be a Woman, with the widely and hand-clappingly reviewed debut novel, How To Build a Girl. In this sequel, 18-year-old Johanna Morrigan (aka Dolly Wilde) lives in London and writes for an of-the-moment music magazine. She's jealous of friend John's big BritPop music success--until she has the idea of writing a column about the ups and down of getting and being famous.With a 40,000-copy first printing.

    Copyright 2018 Library Journal, LLC Used with permission.

  • Kirkus

    May 15, 2018
    A 19-year-old British rock critic contends with big egos, endless partying, a great love, and a sex tape in the 1990s.Dolly Wilde, the pride of Wolverhampton, her alcoholic loser father (a slightly more functional cousin to William H. Macy's character in Shameless), and rock star John Kite, the love of her life, are back in Moran's high-spirited and hilarious sequel to How To Build a Girl (2014). Dolly's quest to become a famous writer and sexual adventuress is going pretty well when she hits a major snag in the form of a well-known young comedian named Jerry Sharp. This misogynist pig of a man, whom she runs into at a concert for which he has no ticket and kindly gets him admitted, manages to get Dolly back to his apartment not once, but twice. It is the second encounter that produces the VHS tape that nearly ruins Dolly's life. New in this continuation of Dolly's story are two wonderful characters, aspiring musician Suzanne Banks and her assistant, Julia. "Most people are built around a heart, and a nervous system. Suzanne appeared to be built around a whirlwind, kept trapped in a black glass jar. She appeared never to think before she spoke, took a drink, or opened a bottle of pills....She was like a bomb that kept exploding over and over." Meanwhile, the levelheaded and embattled Julia has to keep reminding her employer that the guitar is held with the "strings at the front." Some of the best parts of the book are Dolly's writing--articles titled "Ten Things I Have Noticed in Two Years of Interacting With Famous People" and "In Defense of Groupies," and, best of all, a letter to her beloved Mr. Kite explaining why teenage girls are the most important fans of all, "a power grid of energy...splitting their own atoms with love." Set in a time three decades before #MeToo, Dolly's ultra-sex-positive feminism is honed by her experiences with the evil Sharp and her connections with other women.Half feminist comedy, half romance novel--a genre whose time has come.

    COPYRIGHT(2018) Kirkus Reviews, ALL RIGHTS RESERVED.

  • Publisher's Weekly

    Starred review from May 28, 2018
    Moran’s rollicking second novel (after How to Build a Girl) characteristically combines nonstop witticisms with razor-sharp, pointed, and timely cultural critique. Johanna Morrigan (pen name Dolly Wilde) is making her way at 19 in mid-’90s London writing for a music magazine and intent on cultural and sexual adventure. As her ambition and wit propel her further into the world of celebrity in the age of Britpop, she encounters unexpected triumphs, but also challenges: workplace harassment; sexual imbalances of power; and the outsized role of gender in art and criticism, fame and fandom. Moran’s depiction of London is detailed and exuberant, and a convincing backdrop for her unflinching exploration of these issues (though the language used to describe them sometimes seems anachronistically plucked straight from 2018 and #MeToo). Better still, her characters are madcap and lovable but nuanced enough to feel real: Dolly’s friend Suzanne is strident and wise but also self-centered and irresponsible; her family is loyal but dysfunctional; and her true but unrequited love, John Kite, is a sweet and genuine musical talent who poorly manages his newfound fame. With Dolly, Moran has created an excellent heroine that readers will enjoy spending a summer day with.

  • Entertainment Weekly "Moran's semiautobiographical tale of a young writer finding her way in the mid-90s London rock scene pops and fizzes with the energy of those cool Britannia times—but her smart, nervy take on female selfhood and sexuality feels bracingly of now."
  • Helen Fielding "Who better than Caitlin Moran to bring fame down to earth with a bump?"
  • Publishers Weekly, starred review "Moran's rollicking second novel characteristically combines nonstop witticisms with razor-sharp, pointed, and timely cultural critique.... Her characters are madcap and lovable but nuanced enough to feel real."
  • The Guardian "A rollicking fantasy...How to be Famous rewrites a familiar near-past heroically, dispensing justice and leaving a rosy, satisfied afterglow."
  • Nina Stibbe "Glorious and life-enhancing... Funny, philosophical, and poignant in equal measure."
  • London Times "Laugh-out-loud funny, sweetly romantic and fiercly angry. Often all at once."
  • The Seattle Times "A subversive celebration of strong, smart young women."
  • Pittsburgh Post-Gazette "Buckle up for the magical mystery tour that is life with Dolly Wilde...Stylewise, Ms. Moran is a breath of fresh air in the often stuffy, overly serious world of women's fiction. Her sentences cackle with sass but also reveal the vulnerability that lies beneath many a modern woman's confident exterior.... The heart of Ms. Moran's feminist fairy tale, however is its celebration of woman as they are, and not how society would have them be."
  • Financial Times "Funny, warm, insightful... Moran has always been a gloriously acute and funny writer, and the combination of memoir and make-believe here gives her plenty of scope to exercise her considerable ability to entertain."
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