Jesse Kornbluth, of HeadButler.com, this week in awe of a woman in pajamas.
“Slow love” is a good description of the way I’ve come to know Dominique Browning. After decades of a nodding acquaintance when we worked at glossy magazines, we started reading the other’s web sites. There was a chance meeting at a dinner, and, recently, cultural expeditions peppered with questions, stories, ideas. Now I grasp what others figured out long ago: Dominique Browning is that rare talent who’s both intellectually and emotionally fearless.
“Slow Love: How I Lost My Job, Put on My Pajamas, and Found Happiness” begins in 2007, with Condé Nast’s sudden decision to close House & Garden, the magazine Browning has edited for 13 years. The news flattened her: “I’ve lost the very thing that defined my days, paced and regulated my life…. Suddenly I’m floundering. I’m terrified.”
This memoir is not just the book you expect: “a story of psychological collapse, of struggling to start over again.” There’s also a parallel struggle: “not to make the same mistakes again.” She’s looking backward and forward, struggling to be wide awake, so in 267 pages, you get two books in one. [To buy the paperback from Amazon for the bargain price of $6, click here. For the Kindle edition, click here.]
Looking back: Her magazine had burned through five publishers in ten years. Every few months, rumors had Browning following them out the door. The editor of Architectural Digest, also owned by Condé Nast, announced, “I killed that magazine once and I’ll kill it again.” Overlords called Browning in to note her failure to buy designer clothes in sufficient quantity.
Looking forward: The absence of work was even more painful. Browning slept all day, then developed insomnia. She wasted hours reading just about anything on the Internet. And had a predictable response to panic:
Within hours of leaving my office for the last time, I could hardly bring myself to care about my reputation. I just wanted to eat. I began calling every employed person I knew to take me to lunch. I wanted to fill my calendar with the promise of meals, even if they were only penciled in — this, after all, being Manhattan. Only food could ward off the rage, despair and raw fear that overcame me.