All fiction is of course thinly-veiled autobiography, and there is more than most, clad only in gossamer, in Caitlin Moran’s fine novel How To Build A Girl. Like its heroine Johanna, Moran was brought up in a large family in a council house in Wolverhampton. ‘But Johanna is not me,’ Moran writes in a forward. But she is really. This isn’t the problem that some reviewers have taken it to be: Moran is an unusual voice: she is a successful writer in a media industry in which success, for a variety of reasons, is tilted towards middle-class men. She can write about being poor and on benefits from experience, in a way that most high-profile writers simply can’t. She is also articulate and funny. Most writers aren’t. In short, Moran is worth reading, however she chooses to spin it. So to the book: Johanna takes the pen name Dolly Wilde and morphs into a music critic as a way out (as Moran did). It is the early 1990s. There are some poor bands whom she savages in print. There is a lot about sex and drugs. ‘It is a majestic thing to walk out of a building, in a rangy booze squad’, Dolly writes as she and her muso colleagues emerge from a pub. So it is. She learns that being cynical all the time is reductive, corrosive and rather dull. Making a ‘viable version’ of the you that you want to be is tricky and takes time. Johanna/Dolly’s review (see above) of a Soup Dragons album is not dissimilar in tone to Moran’s (real-life) Melody Maker review of Ned’s Atomic Dustbin. Minus the comparison to a Nazi war criminal. Much of the description of her relationship with Tony Rich (fictional) bears strong resemblance to her relationship with Courtney (non-fictional) in Moran’s earlier memoir How To Be A Woman. Moran has been happily married with children for some years now, and doesn’t tend to be rude about anyone except David Cameron. There is a message in that somewhere.