STARRED REVIEW
July 07, 2020

Becoming Duchess Goldblatt

By Anonymous
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The most venerable resident of Crooked Path, New York, is also its only resident. Duchess Goldblatt, beloved social media presence, award-winning author and sponsor of the Duchess Goldblatt dog (and cat) show, expands her reach beyond 280 characters in her tell-all memoir Becoming Duchess Goldblatt. Well, almost all.

The pseudonymous writer behind the Duchess remains unknown in this memoir, but we might think of her as the Duchess’s ghostwriter. After losing a marriage, a job, a house and a circle of friends, this writer became a vessel for the voice of the Duchess, who was fond of dictating loving tweets in the middle of the night. The Duchess’ wit and charm went on to attract a real community, which includes the singer Lyle Lovett, in the otherwise dismal social media landscape.

Becoming Duchess Goldblatt documents the rise of the Duchess, her friendship with Lyle Lovett and the influence of the writer’s good-hearted father on the Duchess’s kindness and whimsy. As a memoir, the story doesn’t shy away from the darker side of the writer’s life—especially the experience of growing up with an older brother who was mentally ill. 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.

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