Newly announced L.A. Times op-ed columnist Meghan Daum (website) gets the full treatment in today's New York Observer. She owns a home in Echo Park and wrote a novel, The Quality of Life Report, the script of which has been optioned twice. It's now "under option to Nicole Kidman, for Ms. Kidman to produce." "In 1999," the NYO writes, "Ms. Daum made her name with 'My Misspent Youth,' a New Yorker essay describing how the vain pursuit of the New York lifestyle had left her $75,000 in debt—and how, therefore, for the sake of clarity and responsibility, she was quitting Manhattan and moving to Lincoln, Neb."
At the time, the essay was the sort of piece that everyone in the striving classes had to read, either to love it or to hate it. “To me, this kind of space did not connote wealth,” she wrote, describing the oak-floored Woody Allen–ish apartment she’d fetishized throughout her New Jersey youth. “These were places where smart people sat around drinking gin and tonics, having interesting conversations, and living, according to my logic, in an authentic way.”
But the apartment and what went with it—$45 dinners out, weekly fresh-cut flowers—were a crippling pose, one that left her unable to handle her dental bills. And rather than trying Queens, Ms. Daum declared her intention to chuck it all and move to the affordable heart of America.
So she did. Living in Lincoln, Ms. Daum did commentaries for NPR about the rural life and “driving along the gravel roads”; she appeared on an episode of Oprah Winfrey about people who had made radical changes in their lives; she wrote for magazines such as Harper’s and Vogue, and the Web site Beliefnet.
She starts as a regular on the op-ed page soon. "She said the Times column, which she has been writing for several weeks on a trial basis, will be 'the stuff that I’ve always been interested in—social politics, class identity issues, certain gender issues. But its not a ‘woman’s column.’ I’m not trying to be Anna Quindlen or anything like that.'" Op-ed editor Nick Goldberg explains her role: "She lives here. She’s a woman, which we like. She writes about culture. We’re always looking for people who write about things that are not straight politics, who can create an intelligent argument around a cultural issue or debate in the world of universities or advertising or in the movies or TV. That’s stuff that we need on the op-ed page.” I've already reported new columns also for Gregory Rodriguez and Joel Stein. Expect to see some further details.