And the Heart Says Whatever
by Emily Gould
$16.00 List Price
It astonished me to learn that Emily Gould has a thing for tattoos. On page 169 of her 208-page memoir, And the Heart Says Whatever, she tells us that she "started getting tattooed," a verb tense that implies she'll continue to add to what sounds like an exotic if thematically disjointed exhibit: koi, a chrysanthemum, poppies, two starfish. And on her hip, a broken heart—it was her first: "When it was my turn I barely winced, and soon I had a permanent broken heart. It was emboldening in general to know that I could act nonchalant about pain."
Gould's casual masochism didn't surprise me. By that point she'd already told us about cheating on multiple boyfriends and buying (then returning) a purebred dog she had no intention of caring for. Indeed, the entire book consists of Gould knowingly putting herself in situations where she is bound to be emotionally hurt. That this weird bravado would translate physically is one of the book's few graceful literary touches. But for more than a hundred pages I'd been reading about pretty much every major (and not so major) decision she'd made in her life—losing her virginity, what college to go to, what to wear. How had tattoos not come up?
I feel a little bad about reading so much into a lacuna, but I realize now that Gould, in general, does not seem to think much about her future, let alone about how those choices will appear when she looks back. Her leaving college in Ohio and moving to New York, her quitting a fairly steady, predictable career path as an associate editor at a major publishing house to take a job with the Gawker