Searing Honesty

On the outside, remarkably, I created an impression of searing honesty.  Regular readers of my column had a sense of me as someone who was brutally direct about life’s struggles: I wrote long, vivid columns about dealing with my parents’ deaths, and I wrote eloquently about the long struggle with anorexia I’d gone through in my twenties, and I channeled boatloads of baggage into humor, into bemused and ironic columns about the young, single life, about the perils of living alone and obsessions with bad men and confusion over what it meant to be a grown-up.

– Caroline Knapp, Drinking: A Love Story (p. 15)


There is something very poignant about the impression of great candor.  I think I managed this myself: I seemed forthright, committed to exposing deeper personal truths to an audience that stayed anonymous.  (At Feministe I said it was like stripping for people who refused to take their clothes off.  Refused is maybe unfair – but they weren’t revealing for me; I was unclothing for them.)  I didn’t require their privacy in compensation – I needed, so the persona goes, only to be honestly spoken.  My honesty was a form of generosity, a large-hearted volunteering of my own comfort for the sake of insight for other people.  

On top of that willed incuriosity about the value of everything I told, there was this central fault that never came out: none of this candor was true.  

I may have used candor as a scaffold for certainty: through a bravura performance of honesty, I created for my audience and for myself an impression of clarity.  



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