The XX Factor

How To Write Evilly, by Lori Gottlieb’s Ex

If Mary Karr is an example of why we should write memoirs, Lori Gottlieb is the poster child for why we shouldn’t. Especially since yesterday, when Jezebel published an interview with one of Gottlieb’s exes . It’s almost deliciously vindictive, albeit unfair-“Tim’s” facts are uncheckable. Gottlieb’s spurned lover makes her sound like pretty much the worst girlfriend anyone has ever had. If he’s telling the truth, though, she may be getting what she deserves.  In addition to providing a quintessential example of Internet revenge, Tim against Lori and Jezebel against the woman who just told us all to settle , the interview accuses Gottlieb of making writing an act of exploitation:

Every book or article Lori writes has nothing to do with the subject of the book: they’re all about making Lori look more attractive … And this book is no different: it puts forward the persona of Lori Gottlieb as a famous anti-feminist writer of best-selling books and controversial Atlantic essays, which is a much more attractive persona than the 40-something single mother who could never commit to any of her boyfriends. And she’ll tell her husband-to-be that she thought she had to settle, but is glad she didn’t have to after all. And then that book will be Lori’s version of Elizabeth Gilbert’s “Committed.” Then there will be a book about her soccer-momhood, and how she does it better than the other moms or her own mother. Maybe even a book like Sandra Tsing Loh’s about leaving her husband for a more exciting guy after that. Not necessarily because there’s something wrong with her husband, but because it would make a much better movie deal if there was conflict and an arc…

… she broke multiple promises to me, then makes up stuff about me to self-aggrandize herself, then is unapologetic about it [and doesn’t] give me a heads-up…

But this is what she does with her writing to everyone in her life: her parents; her classmates from two different schools; her co-workers at two different jobs; her lovers; her son, Baby Book Deal Gottlieb. She’s eventually going to run out of bridges to burn.

Again, this is just Tim’s assessment of Gottlieb’s motivations. And unlike some other DoubleX ers and Jezebel commentors, I don’t think he comes across as a totally great guy. Engaging in complete character assassinations of your exes on the World Wide Web, to quote DoubleX er Noreen, “doesn’t really strike a come-hither chord .” But even if Tim is wrong about Gottlieb, he’s reminded us of memoir’s moral pitfalls. Tim’s retribution is a writer’s cautionary tale.