One could argue that 1995’s memoir A Child Called “It”: One Child’s Courage to Survive, (than still called an autobiography) by Dave Pelzer, was the beginning of a popular trend that still exists today, despite the controversy surrounding the recent rash of fake memoirs. (It must be pretty tragic to have a life so desiccated that you have to make up a new one, why not just pitch it as fiction to a fiction publishing company or literary agency?)
Dave Pelzer’s inspirational story took us on a journey throughout his childhood, in which he was abused almost daily by the hands of his alcoholic mother. The word abuse, in his case, is a serious understatement. Pelzer’s mother starved him, made him eat his brother’s feces, intentionally burned him on the hot stove, made him drink ammonia, and locked him down in the basement, chained to the wall, where he had no other choice but use the bathroom on himself. Humiliation is another serious understatement, as well as the word brave. Pelzer showed signs of being a modern day knight in shining armor for kids everywhere who had, or were being abused. This is what memoirs are all about. Everyone likes to know they aren’t alone- that they can relate in ways that aren’t always motivated by glitz and glamour.
Pelzer’s memoir was only the second I had read, it was recommended to me by my lover at the time. Drew Barrymore’s Little Girl Lost was the first autobiography I had been exposed too. I was 15 years old, Barrymore’s book served as my “higher power” in a time when my own childhood was less than satisfactory. She gave me hope. She made feel like everything was going to be ok, that I could do it on my own, and that in theory, I wasn’t alone in what I was going through. My family wasn’t as screwed up as hers was, but it came close enough.
Since these memoirs/autobiographies, there have been numerous others. Some of my favorites are: Susanna Kaysen’s Girl Interrupted, and Elizabeth Wurtzel’s Prozac Nation and More, Now, Again.
I’m currently reading Diablo Cody’s (writer of the popular movie Juno) Candy Girl : A Year in the Life of an Unlikely Stripper. I’m proud to say that I have jumped on the memoir bandwagon. I’m currently working on the third chapter of a memoir based on events in my life that caused me to re-evaluate the things I thought I knew and understood. Events that changed my perspectives on life, and at the same time left me questioning “why”? I’ll make sure to keep you posted, and I look forward to interacting with other both my readers and other bloggers. Until then….