February 10, 2017
Back in 2014, then-25-year-old writer Emma Cline sold her debut novel The Girls for $2 million as part of a three-book deal with Random House, and mega-producer Scott Rudin (The Social Network, Captain Phillips, etc.) bought the film rights. Now that the book has finally arrived, it's clear what all that hype was about. The Girls is an engrossing, beautifully written account of one young woman's association with a hippie cult, loosely inspired by Charles Manson's infamous Family and the grisly murders they committed in 1969. Emma, now 27, recently talked to Cosmopolitan.com about communes, cult leaders, and why she thinks this is the kind of story that could be set in any time period.
When did you first become interested in the Manson murders? I'm from Northern California, and both my parents are from California and were teenagers around the time of the Manson murders, so it was a big touchstone for them, culturally. So I grew up hearing about it from them and then also found the book Helter Skelter as a teenager. It was sort of in the air in California still.
Though The Girls is about a cult, the cult leader himself is a peripheral character. What made you decide to focus on the followers? I think we've heard enough at this point about the men at the center of a cult, the charismatic leader. It's kind of a familiar story, and I'm not interested in that story as a writer. I'm interested in complex experience, and to me, the women involved in groups like that had never had their story told in a way that I felt fully recognized their humanity. To me, they were always more interesting than the leader at the center. In this book, the Russell character who's the cult leader, the center of this group, is not very charismatic. I think anyone who's reading the book can tell that he speaks in clichés, is manipulative, is an insecure person who's actually not that magnetic. Which is what's nice about writing a book with an older narrator, because they can see in retrospect that this person isn't actually all that special. But the younger Evie can't and actually does experience him as someone magnetic, although even then, he's in the background.
Aside from Helter Skelter, were there any books or movies you used for research on the period? Yeah, it's such a great cultural moment, and there are so many interesting books and movies that came out of that time. And music. In California, I grew up listening to music from the '60s ... like the first concert I went to was Joan Baez. In a way, it was like what I grew up around. There's an amazing book called I'm With the Band, which is by Pamela Des Barres. She was sort of a groupie in the '60s and wrote this really wonderful, vivid book. Her experience of her own sexuality is so complex and without guilt. And then my mom kept a diary in the '60s, so I read that, which was pretty funny.
Did you incorporate anything specific from that in the book? There are a few little details just because she grew up in the area where the book's set, little things about places that people go or whatever. It was funny because you expect her to write about the political unrest or all this exciting national news, but of course it was all about her own personal [thoughts like,] "Oh, I like this person," "Oh, I hate this person." It was very funny and youthful. The thing about writing about another time period is that people don't go around constantly referring to the time period that they're in. It's a lot more people experiencing their own lives, so I tried not to go overboard on the familiar '60s signposts.
Were you anything like Evie when you were a teenager? I'm from a very big family. I have six brothers and sisters, so I think some of the jostling in a group is familiar to me, or group dynamics. And then just being a watchful teenager. No cults though! No cults, no murder.
Do any of your siblings ever read your writing before it's published? They do. Maybe three of them read drafts of this but one of them especially, Hillary, who's my next youngest sister, she read probably eight versions of it. Siblings are kind of great as readers because you can abuse them more than you would abuse a friend. You can force them to read it many, many times, which she did, and it was wonderful. She's a great reader as well because she grew up also interested in communes and cults, sort of the extremes of human experience. But she also loves Elena Ferrante. I feel like that's my ideal reader.
There's a sense in the book that this could happen to anyone — that it doesn't take much to end up in a cult. Is that something you believe yourself? I think certain things make people more vulnerable, but in a way, this could have been set in a contemporary moment. I don't think it's specific to the '60s. I think of, recently, the teenage girls in Europe who run away to join ISIS. It's something that happens still. I don't think it's too far off.
You have a very distinctive writing style. How do you come up with all of these unique descriptions? I'm always trying to think of what the expected detail is and then look at something that's adjacent, so it's slightly unexpected or oblique. It was really important to try to create a book that had its own sort of atmospheric field around it. Those are the kind of books I most enjoy reading, one that offers its own sort of visual vocabulary and world.
A lot of that is specific to a 14-year-old girl and what she would notice. Right, I was interested in the female gaze. We talk a lot about the male gaze, and I think this 14-year-old girl especially is hyperconscious of details and appearances. She sees the world around her in a very specific way.
Did you get yourself anything fancy with your advance? I didn't, no. I feel like I should. I did move out. I lived in a little shed in my friend's yard for two years, so I moved into an apartment. That was my big change.
Do you miss the West Coast? I do, I miss it a lot. I think I'll end up back in California, but all my friends are in New York, my life feels more in New York now.
California does have a very different kind of mystique. There's such a vivid California mythology, and I think a lot of it has to do with the land, this beautiful landscape, which is also sort of dangerous. I was born the same year as the big San Francisco earthquake, so there was always this sense that we lived in this beautiful place but it was teetering on the edge of some kind of latent danger.
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April 16, 2017
Saturday night Coachella festival headliner Lady Gaga took the stage at 11:29 in a black police hat and leather trench coat and opened with Schiebe off her Born This Way album.
She immediately followed it with LoveGame, during which she ditched the hat and jacket and encouraged the crowd to sing along.
Gaga also surprised fans by performing a new song, The Cure, about 45 minutes into the set.
April 12, 2017
April 07, 2017
“Vintage fashion is unique, it’s beautiful, and it’s sustainable,” said Georgia-native Erica Jarman, founder of the Starland District shop, House of Strut.
Jarman is among an emerging group of local entrepreneurs, fashion designers, and small business owners opening stores around Savannah dedicated to providing both quality, one-of-a-kind clothing; some are stressing the importance of buying vintage in order to not contribute to the “fast fashion” zeitgeist.
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