Okay, here we go again with the never-ending sequence of blogs about Megyn Kelly's memoir, Settle for More. I promise this will be the last. I read the last third of the book and found to my surprise that at the end she has tacked on a chapter about how Roger Ailes sexually harrassed her in increasingly threatening ways throughout her first few years at Fox News. I'm so angry at Kelly for the way she structured this memoir, I could just spit. She basically eviscerated her own story, robbing it of the drama that was rightfully there, and in the process made a great and suspenseful story into a boring, preachy one. Reading from the beginning, I was enjoying the book until the part where she gets her dream job at Fox News, her dream husband, and her life is so peachy keen you can barely stand it. Note to memoir writers and memoir ghostwriting clients out there: as I mentioned in a previous blog, nobody wants to read about how your life is perfect and you're the hero of everything.
A: It's a lie. Nobody's life is perfect and if you say it is, you're untrustworthy.
B: Conflict is what makes any story interesting, and the minute your life has no conflict, the book is a dud.
C: Everybody hates perfect people.
But as it turned out, her life during that period of time was FAR from perfect. The truth of the matter was that the price Kelly had to pay for this amazing job was dealing with Ailes' sexual harrassment and staying silent. That's a high price and a humiliating situation for a woman like Megyn who prides herself on being powerful. Additionally, she faced the internal conflict of whether or not she should speak to her new husband about the harrassment. She didn't want to upset him, but she needed support. Finally, she faced a moral dilemma: should she risk her position at Fox by speaking out, in case other women were also being harrassed? Was it selfish of her to stay silent? These internal, external, and moral conflicts, if included in the story, would have made Settle for More a suspenseful and intriguing, unputdownable read, and if I had been the memoir ghostwriter working on this, I would have written it so that readers saw the true complexity of her life. Instead, what Kelly did was segment her life into chapters about the different topics: "my childhood" then "my marriage" then "my first show on Fox" then "my conflict with Trump" then "Ailes' sexual harrassment." In so doing, she removed the real drama from her story. I suspect she did this so that with just the one chapter dealing with sexual harrassment, she didn't drag the topic through the book and seem like a whiner, when she spends her whole book talking about how she's tough and not a whiner. But relegating this issue to the last chapter of the book is another way of covering up for the aggressor and also cheats her out of a better story.
This is, however, an issue I come up against quite a bit when working with memoir ghostwriting clients--they want to cover up the bad things. DON'T! The bad things are the juiciest part of the story. If you want people to read it, you've got to keep the conflicts in there--yeah, even if they make you look bad. After all, what really makes you look good in a memoir is your willingness to show the true story, warts and all. Deleting a huge conflict from the story, only to reveal what was really going on the whole time in the last chapter, is a total cop out. It is. And the fact that Kelly did that is no doubt the reason I almost gave this book away twice before I actually finished it. I felt like something was being whitewashed. I was right, and I felt kind of insulted at the end when she finally revealed that she had been lying by omission all along.