• The Unspeakable

  • And Other Subjects of Discussion
  • By: Meghan Daum
  • Narrated by: Meghan Daum
  • Length: 6 hrs and 48 mins
  • 4.2 out of 5 stars (113 ratings)

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The Unspeakable

By: Meghan Daum
Narrated by: Meghan Daum
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Publisher's Summary

It's a report tempered by hard times. In "Matricide", Daum unflinchingly describes a parent's death and the uncomfortable emotions it provokes; and in "Diary of a Coma" she relates her own journey to the twilight of the mind. But Daum also operates in a comic register. With perfect precision, she reveals the absurdities of the marriage-industrial complex, of the New Age dating market, and of the peculiar habits of the young and digital. Elsewhere, she writes searchingly about cultural nostalgia, Joni Mitchell, and the alternating heartbreak and liberation of choosing not to have children.

©2014 Megan Daum (P)2014 Dreamscape Media, LLC

What listeners say about The Unspeakable

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  • Overall
    2 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    4 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    3 out of 5 stars

Complaining about her dead mom.

What could have made this a 4 or 5-star listening experience for you?

Less character study of her mother.

What was your reaction to the ending? (No spoilers please!)

To be honest, I stopped listening before I got to the end. After the first half hour, I got tired of hearing about her mom, and skipped ahead... still complaining about her mom. Skipped ahead some more... yep, still on the mom. Now complaining about her dad's ambivalence. Now relating the grandmother to the mom, and showing... Sigh. Not my thing. I gave up.

Which scene was your favorite?

Her observations on people's expectations regarding death. Which again, I will be honest, I did not get to in the book, but I heard her explaining this part of the book in an interview on All Things Considered and it piqued my interest.

You didn’t love this book... but did it have any redeeming qualities?

The author's narration is great. It sounds natural and emotive. I think I just had the wrong idea about what the book would be when I heard it was a collection of essays. I think of essays like "Topic A... Discuss," "Topic B... Discuss". But the book is closer to an autobiography with a lot of storytelling from her life. So it's probably unfair for me to judge the book as bad--it was just not what I expected, and I've got reader's remorse.

Any additional comments?

It's wearying for me to listen to an author go on at length about the failings of another person. I understand the value in writing about true experience, and like the idea that someone will have courage to say "unspeakable" things that are true. I just prefer a constructive viewpoint, and this seemed too much like venting for my taste.

3 people found this helpful

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    5 out of 5 stars
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Gen X power house

Daum is as human as you are, as I am. but shes a better observer and a better story teller. So you get something which is at once familiar, but more potent, clearer and brighter.

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This book is amazeballs

Totally amazing series of essays combining to make an excellent memoir. Great performance by the author.

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I don't normally like books like this

I fell in love with Meghan’s writing when I read her most recent book The Problem with Everything. After she agreed to be a guest on my podcast, I figured it’d be a good idea to read some of her other books like this one. The book is a collection of essays as Meghan self-reflects on various chapters of her life from her mother’s death, to her internal struggle of not wanting children, to meeting her idol Joni Mitchell, and so much more. Personally, I’m not a fan of books that are filled with personal stories, but I couldn’t put this book down. Meghan is such an incredible writer that she was able to keep me engaged the entire time, and as a writer, all I could think during 90% of the book was, “How is she so damn good at this?!”. Aside from enjoying her stories and self-reflection along the way, I found myself spending most of my time just trying to analyze her style and trying to figure out how I can improve my own writing. With that being said, I’m going to go buy another one of her books now, and I can’t wait to speak to her on my podcast.

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Perfection!

Smart, funny stories and observations from a brilliant and curious essayist. She even throws in a high drama near-death story. This recording has it all. This is why I love essays.