FishbowlNY: What’s in Emily Gould’s Book Proposal?

By Neal Comment

emily-gould-headshot.jpgActually, FishbowlNY editor Glynnis MacNicol doesn’t know the contents of the proposal Emily Gould‘s agent has begun pitching a possible memoir a book that may be called And the Heart Says… Whatever; what she can tell us is that “word on the street is that whatever Gould has on submission goes beyond the [NY Times Magazine] article, and will focus more on her growing up and less on her time at Gawker.”

(UPDATE: Though I still haven’t seen the proposal, a reliable source tells me the book is an essay collection, not a memoir. Later in the afternoon, the Daily Intel blog confirms my hunches after obtaining a copy of the proposal.)

When Emily left GalleyCat earlier this month, it was a foregone conclusion that she had a book on her to-do list; the only potential surprise when word leaked earlier this week was in the timing, not the premise. Glynnis’s observation that Emily’s agent also represents Megan Hustad and Stanley Fish may bear consideration; what I gleaned about the possible content of …Whatever from (admittedly limited) conversations shortly after she started posting to this blog suggests that she might spend as much time grappling with philosophical questions as she will recounting biographical circumstance.

The (slightly cautionary) example of Jedediah Purdy is perhaps worth remembering in this context; when he published For Common Things at the age of 24 nearly a decade ago, I remember writing, “[W]hen Purdy focuses on personal matters related to his homeschooled West Virginia upbringing, one can detect traces of a passion and intensity that would be well worth developing… [A]nybody can—and many people do—make impersonal assessments of the state of the world; there is a story, however, that only Jedediah Purdy can tell us about community and responsibility.” I suspect the same is true concerning what Emily has to tell us about identity, mediation, and technology, except that she’ll be able to more successfully navigate that course; certainly her best writing has (it seems) emerged when she’s given the opportunity to follow her passion and intensity and to engage in sustained introspection, blending experience and contemplation into a narrative throughline, rather than constantly churning out reactive copy on someone else’s clock. So it seems likely that she will, in fact, offer a much more personal perspective closer in tone to Hustad than Purdy. Equally likely that even those who scoff at her literary ambitions this week will be lining up to get a look at …Whatever as soon as ARCs become available.

(None of the preceding should be construed to undercut Purdy’s subsequent accomplishments; for that matter, you might not even trust my literary judgment.)