Back to Megyn Kelly's memoir, Settle for More. I'm going to refine my critcism of it in the previous blog, just because I went ahead and read the second third of the book. The thing that attracted me to this book in the first place, was the summary on the book flap that promised "never before heard details about the first republican debate of 2016," and the first few pages of the prologue, which dive right into the good stuff. I found that election cycle fascinating from a woman's perspective, because here we had Fox journalist Megyn Kelly asking Donald Trump a tough question about his reputation vis a vis women, and then Trump basically threatening her and insanely claiming she was "bleeding from her wherever" on national TV. That election cycle also saw Trump call Carly Fiorina unpresidential because of her looks. Fiorina then took his statement and threw it back in his face with an ad that reached out to women across the political spectrum, even though her pro-life, pro-corporate platform had never really been seen as a particularly feminist one. 2016 saw conservative feminists coming out of the closet and fighting back against their republican male peers: a really interesting phenomenon, I thought. So when Kelly's book jacket promised behind the scenes info about that world, I wanted to read it. Then, I read a third of the book, which was about her (sorry, but ...) relatively unremarkable childhood, her first marriage, then her second marriage to her golly-gee dream husband, having kids, how much she loved them ... I got very bored. But then she got into her time as a journalist, the debate, the war Trump waged on her, her conflict with Jon Stewart, and the book became nothing less than riveting, then it annoyed me again by reducing her entire life's experience to a platitude about parenting. I think the book does give you good insight into Kelly's way of thinking and the profession of journalism itself, however I feel like it plays a dirty trick on the reader.
The prologue hooked me, as it was intended to, but after that, with the fourteen chapters about her childhood, husbands, and kids, I literally shut the book and put it in my used-bookstore-trade-in pile. Later, I remembered I wanted to read about that debate, and picked it up again, but grudgingly. I kind of resented having been forced to read all that gooey relationship stuff. Granted, as a memoir ghostwriter (and a person with my own set of kooky parents), you have to hit me with some outlandish stuff if you want me to make me interested in your childhood or relationships, so I'm a tough audience; however, it's clear why she put in all that. Later, when she talks about how she toughed it out throughout Trump's post-debate bullying, she references her mom's non-coddling parenting style to make a point about how that toughened her up for moments like this. The non-coddling message comes full circle and ties the book up, philosophically, quite neatly, and Settle for More carries the message: don't coddle your children, or they won't grow up to be tough, like Megyn Kelly. This message might be really useful for parents who struggle with this issue, but it annoyed me, because I picked up the book completely unaware that I was about to read a book that, at its core, is about parenting.
I thought I was going to read a book about a feminist behind the scenes at Fox news, and the crossroads between conservative thought and feminism. Some of that is in the book, granted, but it isn't the focus, and I think the topic was somewhat whitewashed. She gave a pass to a whole bunch of men at Fox news who didn't exactly throw her under the bus, but didn't stand up for her, either, so busy were they keeping Trump appeased. Why should journalists keep a presidential candidate appeased at all? That question isn't mentioned. How can a woman so adamant about her right to equality work for Roger Ailes, know him well, and never mention his bad reputation regarding women, in the whole book? These were the things I wanted to know about, but I got broad strokes, instead. In the end, the message is that she isn't a whiner, has proven she isn't a whiner, and can't stand other people who are whiners or who nurture whiners. I hate whiners, too, so I don't disagree, I just think Kelly has a lot more to say than that and the book skims over a lot of topics, and basically sells itself short with the aphorisms about parenting. I still have a few chapters more to read, but again, I'm ready to put it in the recycle pile, because when memoirs start moralizing, you've lost me.