It is a tonic, a gift for our anxious summer ... given to the surreal wit perfected by comedian Steven Wright. Becoming is salted throughout with her dry aperçus ... Becoming is many things, all of them splendid. It is a work of fiction, because Duchess is ... Becoming is also the best sort of self-help, demonstrating that creativity, generosity and even Twitter, when not harnessed for the dark arts, can offer salvation and lift all boats, including those stuck on the ocean floor ... The book is enriched by two distinct voices: one frank and vulnerable, the other all-knowing. You believe the details of the author’s life because, through Duchess, she’s committed to staying generous and true ... This sort of anonymity, in a time of too much oversharing on too many platforms, is a respite. We need magic. The book’s timing is inspired. It’s a summer cocktail of a book.
Full disclosure: I know the author of this memoir. I know Duchess Goldblatt the way I know Omar Little and Wonder Woman. I know her the way I know Rhoda Morgenstern and Tony Soprano ... Like most of her 25,000 followers, I feel as if I know her. We interact in real time and I have a strong sense of who she is. I like her posts, and every once in a while, she likes one of mine. And yet reviewing her book doesn’t compromise my ethics in the least. Because I really don’t know her at all ... In fact, the memoir does tell us who Duchess Goldblatt really is, without giving a name. As one of those followers who didn’t want to see behind the curtain, I found it deeply satisfying, unexpectedly moving and not spoilery in the least. And as lovable as the duchess herself ... Duchess and Anonymous subtly, slowly, become one person. She no longer feels alone; neither do her subjects. People find solace in this fictional character — and Anonymous does, too.
As a memoir, the story doesn’t shy away from the darker side of the writer’s life ... It also questions the ethics of memoir, of telling family stories that reveal other people’s secrets or bad behavior. Anonymity allows the writer to tell her story through the Duchess, while also preserving the family’s privacy ... Most importantly though, the Duchess is a light shining in the darkness, a beacon for troubled souls scrolling through their phones in the wee hours of the morning. Her presence has uplifted her human avatar, even as it heartens Her Grace’s ever-growing audience of 'loons' and 'rascals.' She might be an invention of social media, but—as the Duchess would say—her love is real.