Meghan Daum is a columnist for the Los Angeles Times and the author of the essay collection My Misspent Youth. She is also the author of Life Would Be Perfect If I Lived in That House and The Quality of Life Report, a novel. Her essays and reviews have appeared in The New Yorker, Harper’s, The New York Times Book Review, Vogue, and other publications. She has also contributed to NPR’s Morning Edition, Marketplace, and This American Life. She lives in Los Angeles, California.
A master of the personal essay candidly explores love, death, and the counterfeit rituals of American life
In her celebrated 2001 collection, My Misspent Youth, Meghan Daum offered a bold, witty, defining account of the artistic ambitions, financial anxieties, and mixed emotions of her generation. The Unspeakable is an equally bold and witty, but also a sadder and wiser, report from early middle age.
It’s a report tempered by hard times. In “Matricide,” Daum unflinchingly describes a parent’s death and the uncomfortable emotions it provokes; and in “Diary of a Coma” she relates her own journey to the twilight of the mind. But Daum also operates in a comic register. With perfect precision, she reveals the absurdities of the marriage-industrial complex, of the New Age dating market, and of the peculiar habits of the young and digital. Elsewhere, she writes searchingly about cultural nostalgia, Joni Mitchell, and the alternating heartbreak and liberation of choosing not to have children.
Combining the piercing insight of Joan Didion with a warm humor reminiscent of Nora Ephron, Daum dissects our culture’s most dangerous illusions, blind spots, and sentimentalities while retaining her own joy and compassion. Through it all, she dramatizes the search for an authentic self in a world where achieving an identity is never simple and never complete.
Praise for My Misspent Youth
“For several years now, I’ve kept copies of some of these essays . . . by my desk . . . Her writing has a clarity . . . that just makes you feel awake.” —Ira Glass
“A Joan Didion for the new millennium, Meghan Daum brings grace, wit, and insight to contemporary life, love, manners, and money.” —Dan Wakefield