Ada, Lisa Carver is totally one of my favorite writers, and thinkers, of all time, and your description of her as the “most cheerfully dangerous person in the world” is so right on.
I read Dancing Queen for the first time the summer after I graduated from college. Lisa’s exuberant attitude made me totally rethink–and re-feel–many things I spent most of the 90s being monumentally depressed about.
Like, for example, sex, a topic on which she sounds like a kind of 90swoman Walt Whitman—good-natured, optimistic, endlessly curious. In one essay, she says she doesn’t regret one moment of her lousy early sex life. (This is a topic you and I might want to return to….) In another, she writes with glee—not shame—about stuffing her bra, being found out, then lying about it. When she says she thinks going to the gynecologist is hot because she likes “rough and cranky men,” I am totally, thoroughly charmed.
She is not the kind who writes a diatribe against the patriarchy. Instead, she writes an essay about how gross guys’ underwear is and says, “Basically, men, you look like creeps. I have no idea why I’m attracted to you.”
Her theory about lesbianism is: “women are just cuter than men, so it’s natural that women would be attracted to other women.”
A lot of the 90s was about less, less, less. Minimalism! Waifs! Cleaning up the planet for earth day! Alterna-music with 3 chords! Not that there is anything wrong with those things. But Lisa is all about MORE. She thinks Jamie Lee Curtis’s flat stomach makes her look “miserly,” while jolly, chubby-cheeked Roseanne Barr looks like she would be good in bed.
She is the least bougie person alive: totally against prudence and equivocation (not to mention hypocrisy). She is proud to call herself white trash. “It’s not that I dislike the middle class,” she says in one essay. “Well, OK—I do dislike the middle class.” Who can resist her fun brand of identity politics?
Basically, Lisa finds something good and funny in the most unlikely places. It’s a total 90swoman sensibility. Though she is way more evolved than most of us.
Okay, so basically all I’ve done here is give a list of some of my favorite Lisa moments. But maybe this will entice people to buy her books! (Or look up those old Nerve pieces you edited.)
PS. If you ever want to talk more about the kind of emotionally healthy recklessness you feel like she encouraged: I can’t wait. I could talk about her endlessly, too.
PPS. I totally agree that the best reason to be a journalist is because it’s a totally legitimate excuse to meet whoever you are obsessed with without admitting you are obsessed with them. (More stealth!) I would like to add that it is also a good way to make people with whom you used to be obsessed filled with regret that they somehow wronged you. Or, you know, to make yourself feel like they must feel that way. When Marisa and I were writing our book, we spent a lot of time fantasizing about the emotions our mean ex-boyfriends would feel upon encountering our fancy book. I personally found these fantasies to be very, very cathartic and highly recommend such thinking to all young, burgeoning writers.