Author Meghan Daum on Trump-Era America

Her newest book, "The Problem with Everything," is a cultural critique of the country's current state.

Photo of Meghan Daum courtesy of Nina Subin

Meghan Daum has always been one to write what nobody will say.

While this boldness can be found in her prior essay collections, My Misspent Youth (2001) and The Unspeakable (2014), it has never been more evident than in her latest book, The Problem With Everything: My Journey Through the New Culture Wars (Gallery Books/Simon & Schuster), wherein she scrutinizes everything from the #MeToo movement to safe spaces to call-out culture.

“It was a very difficult book to write because the issues just kept changing,” says Daum, who grew up in Ridgewood. “It was like a game of whack a mole.”

Daum didn’t set out to write this exact book. But what was supposed to be a critique of the state of feminism quickly evolved after the 2016 presidential election, which she deems “a political catastrophe.” At the time, Daum was in the midst of a catastrophe of her own, working her way through a divorce and reckoning with her experience of being an aging Gen Xer. She decided to take a deep dive into what she feels has gone wrong with the country, a cultural critique of the current era.

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“It’s about having complicated and conflicting feelings in a time where black-and-white thinking and absolute certainty have become the norm,” she says. 

As a columnist for the Los Angeles Times for more than a decade, Daum has been encouraged to look closely at issues and think deeply without jumping on a bandwagon. She wishes more people would do the same.

“It’s really hard to be alone with your thoughts,” says Daum. “But I think it’s really necessary.”

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