Marie Calloway rocks. No two ways about it, she rocks the Casbah. Since the release of ‘Adrien Brody’ she’s become popular. A few people (who am I kidding) a lot of people have criticized her in ways that I find particularly unflattering, dishonest, and downright mean. Originally I wasn’t going to write about Marie, she’s an internet friend of mine and a supporter of mine. I figured ‘Oh, people will get around to her point of view; the internet shit-storm (caused mostly by double standards, sexism, etc.) will subside’. I thought of people’s initial reaction to Megan Boyle’s work “Everyone I’ve Had Sex With” as a similar comparison and the ‘shit-storm’ that came immediately after it. What came of that was Megan’s book, which ended up doing really well, with haters either silenced or outvoted. I wanted that to happen with Marie as I left on hiatus. I figured by the time I came back from the most remote corner of Earth people would gain some common sense and decency.
That hasn’t happened. That’s why I’m writing this piece. I support Marie Calloway’s writing and am offended that people use thinly veiled criticism of her life as a way to insult her work. Really they shouldn’t be criticizing Marie at all, at least not in such vicious and counterproductive ways. When I initially read the comments on HTML Giant, I said aloud to myself ‘I wonder how many of these people bothered reading Marie’s story, or do they just dislike the idea behind the story’. I don’t know the answer to this question, I hope everyone who criticizes her has at the very least read her work, but that’s probably not the case. 15,000 words is a lot to read and I know to criticize takes less effort than to create. But to do this justice to some degree requires starting at the beginning, to her Thought Catalog articles.
Thought Catalog is a wonderful, lovely place where people contribute stellar material. There are some commenters who fight amongst themselves. It is a place kind enough to have hosted my writing before (see here). It gave Marie her first outlet for writing starting in April of last year. I’ll summarize them briefly here:
‘Losing Your Virginity’ is the best summary for the article. It is also the title. It is an extremely descriptive version of the experience, told from a female point of view, a refreshing take from ‘then we boned and it was hot.’ This should have alerted people to Marie’s writing abilities, particularly the ending of the piece. Going through the comments gives only an inkling of what kind of Puritan Rage Marie would later encounter with ‘Adrien Brody’. A few of them are point out her refusal to capitalize words. Others penned such lazy comments as ‘she just wants attention, blah blah blah’ and other extraordinarily useful critiques. The comments were swipes at her age, gender, and socio-economic status.
‘How to Make Money in London’ is the second piece. It deals with the sex economy and the power dynamic between Marie and a London Banker. At least that’s what I got from it. People got pissed off by the ‘banker listens to the Smiths’ line. I mean, I’m a music nerd. No doubt about it. But I can’t understand why people got infuriated by the Smiths line so much. A few of them even suggested ‘do the math’ since they are unable to do basic addition and subtraction. Weirdly, even though this was about sex work, people seemed less upset than they did about Marie losing her virginity. Guess since it was prostitution and not outright ‘I must enjoy this sex’ people relax. Commenters feel threatened when faced with a different story from what TV, literature, culture, etc. has told them about sex. Prostitution though is treated in a darker light, hence why people did not berate her as much for this article. A simpler explanation exists: people read her first piece and already had some idea what to expect from her re: subject material, style and tone.
‘Adrien Brody’: this is the big one, the one that tore bored, apathetic bloggers apart, no mean feat. Read it here. Much of the criticism was pathetic. One critic penned something with the truly Earth shattering, brilliant fucking insight of ‘What would your Father say?’ which somehow became an entire blog post with likes and stuff. Honestly, who cares what her father says? In what way does that change the content of the story, what the story covered, the relationship dynamic between Adrien and Marie, or really anything? Then there are the ‘when you’re older you will realize how stupid you are’ critics. They claim she’ll regret everything she did as a young writer. I’m kind of shocked that so-called ‘smart people’ people who went into an MFA program, paid for the education, and write full time could be so emotionally stupid. I don’t get it. Why are so many alt lit readers such prudes? The ‘Marie’ character in the story is not the exact same person who wrote it, there are differences and changes that Marie has explained over and over again, only to hear people use the same critiques over and over again. The mean-spirited destructive criticism Marie Calloway has received makes me sad. I told a close friend of mine about it and they suggested we go together to see Marie read live when she comes to New York in February.
What is ‘Adrien Brody’ about though? It is about a young woman (our heroine Marie) going to New York and sleeping with an older (smarter?) man. I liked a lot of parts of this story. I liked how he uses parts of her conversation in his actual IRL articles (hence evidence that she’s a good writer). See the Forever 21 conversation for evidence. Hearing how he is a bit of a phony when it comes to reading is pretty funny. Books he never read are just one of many details. By the end of the story I felt for the character Marie. Parts of the dialogue were quite charming, touching my slothy heart.
"So why did you break up?"
"Because I didn't love him."
"I guess that is important..."
I enjoyed that snippet and other pieces. If I was to cut and paste every part I enjoyed it would be enormous. I liked the Hipster Runoff discussion, the Tao Lin discussion, and a lot of other little details. Every little piece is brought together right down to Adrien’s borough of residence Queens. To that I say ‘Hell Yeah’ because Queens never gets any love in any story.
Since the story came out Marie has been busy. She’s interview Momus, a musician she’s fond of, and she’ll be doing some fantastic readings in the Big Apple, New York City. Hopefully I can make those given time, space, buses, money, and so many other variables.
Marie also runs probably one of the most kickass Tumblrs I’ve seen in quite some time. Go here to witness pure joy, pure happiness, and pure Mountain Mew. <3 Mew Marie Cattoway.