Review: Down the Drain by Julia Fox

Down the Drain by Julia Fox

Bjørn reviews Down the Drain, Julia Fox‘s memoir.

About the Book
Series:standalone
Genre:Memoir
Publisher:Simon & Schuster
Date of Publishing:September 12, 2023
Trigger Warnings:sexual assault, drugs, gaslighting, drugs, alcohol, physical violence, all forms of sex really, also drugs
Page count:318
Book Blurb
Down the Drain by Julia Fox

A NEW YORK TIMES BESTSELLER

The hotly anticipated book from “one of the all-time pop-culture greats” ( New York magazine) that chronicles her shocking life and unyielding determination to not only survive but achieve her dreams.

Julia Fox is famous for many her captivating acting, such as her breakout role in the film Uncut Gems ; her trendsetting style, including bleached eyebrows, exaggerated eyeshadow, and cutout dresses; her mastery of social media, where she entertains and educates her millions of followers. But all these share the trait for which she is most unabashedly and unapologetically being herself.

This commitment to authenticity has never been more on display than in Down the Drain . With writing that is both eloquent and accessible, Fox recounts her turbulent path to cultural her parents’ volatile relationship that divided her childhood between Italy and New York City and left her largely raising herself; a possessive and abusive drug-dealing boyfriend whose torment continued even from within Rikers Island; her own trips to jail as well as to a psychiatric hospital; her work as a dominatrix that led to a complicated entanglement with a sugar daddy; a heroin habit that led to New Orleans trap houses and that she would kick only after the fatal overdose of her best friend; her own near-lethal overdoses and the deaths of still more friends from drugs and suicide; an emotionally explosive, tabloid-dominating romance with a figure she dubs “The Artist”; a whirlwind, short-lived marriage and her trials as a single parent striving to support her young son. Yet as extraordinary as her story is, its universality is what makes it so powerful. Fox doesn’t just capture her improbable evolution from grade-school outcast to fashion-world icon, she captures her transition from girlhood to womanhood to motherhood. Family and friendship, sex and death, violence and love, money and power, innocence and experience—it’s all here, in raw, remarkable and riveting detail.

More than a year before the book’s publication, Fox’s description of it as “a masterpiece” in a red carpet interview went viral. As always, she was just being honest. Down the Drain is a true literary achievement, as one-of-a-kind as its author.

Quote of the Book
Quote Background

“I’m an artist in the role of a lifetime, playing Me.”

Song of the Book

Look At Me by Geri Halliwell

Review

The New York Magazine calls Fox “one of the all-time pop-culture greats.” The definition of ‘pop-culture’ is “collection of ideas, perspectives, attitudes, images, and phenomena within mainstream society that are prevalent at a given point in time.” While I’m not sure about the mainstream, the ‘point in time’ feels about right.

I love memoirs. My main interests are nerds, addicts, mentally ill/traumatised people, artists (which often means the same person) (also I can see you judging me and I judge you for that). A memoir – as opposed to an autobiography – is supposed to have a theme. Marya Hornbacher’s Madness and Wasted (which I think were both inspiration for Down the Drain) focus respectively on Hornbacher’s bipolar disorder and eating disorder. Down the Drain’s theme is Julia Fox being fascinated with Julia Fox.

Everything in the book is the worst, the best, the biggest, the flashiest, interrupted by not-quite-authentic displays of humility and self-doubt. (Coincidentally, the way the author chose to describe herself fits nine out of nine traits of narcissistic personality disorder.) Often, there is more detail given to what drugs look like, feel like, where they are obtained, how, and snorted/smoked/injected, than the people around. Who keep randomly disappearing. An example that stuck with me: Julia’s (at the moment) best friend picks her up from the airport, hugging her, making her immensely happy. In the next paragraph, her boyfriend, who also showed up, is driving Julia home. Did she leave the friend at the airport? Who cares. Julia is making out with a guy while his two friends are in the room. They’re having sex now. In front of the friends? Oh. They teleported to the toilet. Together with the drugs they’re snorting off the toilet seat.

Credit’s due, and given – that romance is not the core part of the book (which might or might not be because it would take too much spotlight from Fox), and its other half is referred to as ’the artist.’ When Fox is asked to write how she and the artist, have met, she writes her version, and sends it to him. He immediately rejects it – it won’t do. “I’m confused because it’s the truth. A few minutes go by and he sends me a completely new version that sounds nothing like me and is completely fabricated.” The article in question says “Everything with us has been so organic!” Down the Drain feels this way most of the time. (Extra credit: when the artist suddenly remembers Fox didn’t sign a non-disclosure agreement, he demands that she does. Fox refuses. “I can’t be friends with you if you don’t sign it,” he threatens. “I’ll live,” she replies.)

Julia’s best friend (she has lots of best friends, all of whom betray her, either literally or by dying) dies. She is devastated. By what? “The worst feeling is seeing a fashion show entirely inspired by me and not receiving an invitation. Being purposely excluded from the conversation when I single-handedly started every trend of 2022 is annoying.” In the next paragraph, Julia complains about the reporters: “[i]n every interview […] none of them ask me how I’m doing after so much loss. They don’t care about Harmony or Gianna or Chris or how hard it is to be a single mom.” Please feel sorry for Julia. She is being excluded, which is the WORST FEELING, and on top of that, everyone who wants to hear her thoughts doesn’t even care about the less bad feelings, such as deaths of her friends.

Most celebrity memoirs are written by ghostwriters. Malcolm X had a ghostwriter. Fox didn’t have one. “I just wrote the whole fucking book. Editing it was what was actually like pulling teeth. I sent my editor at Simon & Schuster the first draft, and he was, like, Great! And I was, like, Wait a minute. Like, no. So I went off and reread it and edited it.” That’s…not how pulling teeth while working with an editor works. No editor is listed on the copyright page, and there are no acknowledgments. Make of it what you will.

Why have I read this book, then? I wanted to find out what exactly made Fox this interesting, iconic, so heavily covered in interviews (I found out about this memoir from a gushing New Yorker interview, ‘Julia Fox Didn’t Want to Be Famous, but She Knew She Would Be’). As she declares in the interview, “I’m just so over Julia Fox, to be honest.” Further on, “I try to control my negative thoughts. If a negative thought comes into my head, I’m immediately just, like, No, I’m that bitch. I’m amazing.” But why? Specifically, why does this interview exist, listed next to interviews with Naomi Klein, Isabel Allende, John Waters, Patrick Stewart? What is so amazing about Fox? This is what I wanted to learn.

In the first film Fox starred in, Uncut Gems, she played a character “inspired by herself (the character’s name was even Julia)” (TIME Magazine). Much later, she is pleased to find out that “[other women] say they love my authenticity and describe me as ‘real’.” The New Yorker interview links to an InStyle magazine’s article with the undeniably catchy title ‘Julia Fox Wore a See-Through Outfit Made Entirely of Condoms.’ Then, when asked about fame, Fox answers “When I’d picture my ideal scenario, I’d always prefer a more niche kind of fame. An indie vibe, not a Page Six vibe.” Admittedly, condom outfits seem quite niche to me.

The only things I have really learned are 1) that heroin feels really good, 2) that bad boys are more exciting than good ones, even if the good ones pay you tens of thousands of dollars for having dinner with them (while you’re busy texting your bad boy), 3) that the target audience for Julia Fox’s memoir is Julia Fox and people who want to be Julia Fox. You know. Real.

From the blurb: “More than a year before the book’s publication, Fox’s description of it as ‘a masterpiece’ in a red carpet interview went viral. As always, she was just being honest.” Over those 312 pages, Fox is accused of many things, but never of being modest.

Our Judgement
Let Them Be Buried - 1.5 Crowns

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