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to read "misery lit"

(158 Posts)
shewhowines Mon 01-Jul-13 13:38:53

Is that the correct term for it?

I have just finished reading a book, about someone who suffered childhood abuse, that somebody passed on to me. I know there is a hatred of such books by many people.

Whilst it would not be my first choice of book, I must admit that I "enjoyed" it. It made me sad and I did actually have tears in my eyes at one point.
Reasons I have occassionally read them/watched sad films.

1. It is important that people are aware that this sort of thing went on/goes on.
2. It is important that people have some ability to empathise (although I know you obviously can't really understand unless you have gone through it yourself).
3. I get a positive emotion from it, in that I feel grateful for the life that I have led and feel very lucky. There for the grace of God goes I...

I am prepared to get a flaming for this, But I am genuinely interested in why it is supposed to be so popular, and what other people think of it.

doingthesplitz Mon 01-Jul-13 14:19:31

YANBU but I have to say I really don't understand the popularity of these books.

I can understand someone reading one or two but some people seem to snap up every tragic true story and get stuck in. I just don't get it. I also hate when I go into a bookshop and there's a whole section full of these books, with titles like 'Daddy's little Princess', 'No, Daddy, No' etc. Ugh! It's like some people think it's some form of entertainment and not a horrific abuse.

NinaHeart Mon 01-Jul-13 14:23:51

I also hate the one writte4n by the brother, uncle, milkman, ex-corner shop assistant of the abuse. Bandwagon jumping, no?

I have read one of two books of the genre, but don't find them at all entertaining (are they meant to be?) and usually formulaic.

Arabesque Mon 01-Jul-13 14:26:23

I agree. It seems to have been turned into an industry, which is pretty distasteful. I've also read of a few cases where family members have totally disputed the author's version of events. And I am sure there are many more who don't particularly want their unhappy childhood out there as entertainment for the masses. Even where names are changed it is unlikely that in an entire book you are not going to include details which will totally give away who the family involved are.

squoosh Mon 01-Jul-13 14:33:03

I think a few important abuse memoirs were written, publishers recognised a hot trend and then churned out countless tacky books in that genre. They always have titles like 'Please stop Daddy'. I think they fetishise abuse and neglect.

I would wonder about someone who read misery book, after misery book after misery book.

So YANBU to read one of these books but YABU to become enthralled with the genre.

squeakytoy Mon 01-Jul-13 14:35:18

So many of these books have been discredited as being a fantasy of the authors imagination, probably because as a previous poster said, it turned into a lucrative bandwagon.

Gruntfuttock Mon 01-Jul-13 14:38:48

I get upset when I accidentally read a headline about a child being hurt, and never read the article for all the details, so I certainly wouldn't choose to read a whole book about it.

Dirtymistress Mon 01-Jul-13 14:39:13

You can read what you like. It's a phase, eventually you'll get bored and want to read something better. Misery memoir is the correct term.

shewhowines Mon 01-Jul-13 14:42:23

I agree with pretty much all of you. But somebody keeps them in business.

Pagwatch Mon 01-Jul-13 14:45:35

Well you do, don't you?

I was abused throughout my childhood and to be honest they fuck me off.
People getting teary eyed for a frisson of rather weird enjoyment is very odd to me.

MamaChubbyLegs Mon 01-Jul-13 14:47:41

I always avoid the 'misery lit' section (sea of white book covers, black and white sad looking child, sparkly scrawled title)

There is obviously a market for it, but it makes me feel a bit sick that these topics are covered in graphic detail for entertainment, rather than awareness sad

YANBU to read or enjoy, but as squoosh said, I'd wonder about someone who has a whole collection

CailinDana Mon 01-Jul-13 14:50:29

God yes who do those abuse victims think they are writing about their disgusting lives? Don't they know that abuse isn't an appropriate subject for normal non-disgusting people to read about? Why don't they write about something nice and clean like murder or vampires?

Count yourself extremely lucky op and others that you can sit back and smugly judge those who want to talk about the horrific things that happened to them. The genre exists largely due to people like you who believe that people should keep quiet about abuse and that even reading about it, never mind experiencing it or talking about it, somehow makes you dirty and wrong.

shewhowines Mon 01-Jul-13 14:51:59

I've never actually bought one pag - just been passed to me. But people obviously do.

Samu2 Mon 01-Jul-13 14:53:02

Hate Misery lit.

Do not see the appeal at all.

The only author I do like of this genre is Torey Hayden, mainly because they aren't done in a depressing way and she is amazing.

CailinDana Mon 01-Jul-13 14:53:16

Out of interest do people object to brian keenan writing about his time as a hostage? And if not, why not?

shewhowines Mon 01-Jul-13 14:54:28

But that' not what I said callin. I do count myself lucky and i am judging the readers of many, not the authors.

Arabesque Mon 01-Jul-13 14:57:17

Cailin That's not what people are saying. We're objecting to child abuse being turned into some kind of 'bestselling' entertainment' with attractively poignant covers and titles and some dubious memoirs that seem to be jumping onto a bandwagon as opposed to being actual facts.

Also, it can be very upsetting for other family members who don't want details of their abusive childhoods to be disseminated like this.

CailinDana Mon 01-Jul-13 14:57:28

It's worth remembering too that the majority of abuse victims and writers of thses books are women. By sneering at them and giving them mocking names you are colluding with a society that would much rather women kept quiet about these things.

lurkedtoolong Mon 01-Jul-13 14:57:47

Not my thing, but wouldn't think anyone was BU for reading them. People with all sorts of experiences write about their lives for any number of reasons. If it means that difficult issues are being openly discussed or victims of abuse are getting some degree of release and closure then I would never criticise.

I'm not sure why (eg) a Holocaust or genocide survivor's memoir would be regarded as an important historical document but one from an abuse victim is somehow shameful. People need to know truths and people need to be able to share their experiences.

CailinDana Mon 01-Jul-13 14:58:54

So it's ok to write them as long as no one reads them?

BegoniaBampot Mon 01-Jul-13 15:00:34

Hate it. Can understand someone picking up and reading one, but as to folk who just love this kind of thing and read many - I probably would judge TBH and think they were a bit wet.

MamaChubbyLegs Mon 01-Jul-13 15:01:03

gruntfuttock me too, I thought I was weird!

I literally can't see the appeal in the books. I don't know if they are supposed to appeal to our maternal sides, maybe? Make you wish you could mother that child? I don't know, it'sjust a theory.

I still think that the business of exploiting it for entertainment value is a bit sick. It sensationalises it and takes the piss out of people who have suffered that type of abuse in silence

CailinDana Mon 01-Jul-13 15:01:20

Exactly lurked. Brian keenan's memoir was lauded (rightly) as a masterpiece. But then he's a man so what he says is important.

Pagwatch Mon 01-Jul-13 15:03:32


The fact that it is an industry with picture of weeping children on the covers is massively uncomfortable for me.
I would hardly be mocking or silencing abuse victims, what with me being one confused

I perfectly respect that you find them valid and worthy. I don't.

There are some well written works. Then there are sensationalised mawkish tomes presented for the gawping and the curious.

Op. you read it, wrote about it. You are adding to the industry.

CailinDana Mon 01-Jul-13 15:03:53

Mama i don't know if you've suffered abuse but i can assure you as a survivor myself i have never come across a survivor who thinks they "take the piss."

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