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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.

shewhowines Mon 01-Jul-13 15:05:22

I don't know how I really feel. That's why i started the thread. I guess as people upthread have said. I think it is important to read some and acknowledge that awareness is needed and that people do have shit lives, but it is a bit strange when people read them all hungrily. I was looking for other perspectives on it. I don't know - is it comforting if you've suffered similar and hear about other experiences? How does it make you feel? I am just truly trying to get my head round it.

PoppyAmex Mon 01-Jul-13 15:06:08

I was given one of those books but didn't particularly wanted to finish it.

On the other hand, I read "Gipsy Boy" and enjoyed it.

CailinDana Mon 01-Jul-13 15:06:30

Cross posted with pag qho does feel that way. I just wonder why abuse memoirs are the focus - whynot memoirs about war or some other horrific event?

Lottapianos Mon 01-Jul-13 15:07:04

Cailin, I honestly don't think that's what the OP was getting at. I agree with OP that these stories should be told and should be heard. I'm an abuse and DV survivor myself and I know first hand how much silence exists around these issues and how much the silence fuels the guilt that survivors feel. Of course no one type of book is going to be everybody's cup of tea and some people will find it strange or even distasteful.

For those of you who find the whole genre very weird/creepy, bear in mind that reading this type of book can be safe way for a person to feel things that are very scary and upsetting. You can pick up a book when you want to and put it down if it becomes too much. Reading about someone else's pain can be helpful in trying to process your own feelings so people do have their reasons for reading sad and horrifying stories.

shewhowines Mon 01-Jul-13 15:09:11

It is interesting that pag and callin have different views on it.

I didn't mean to offend or demean peoples experiences. Just having read one, it made me question things.

Pagwatch Mon 01-Jul-13 15:11:01

I accept your point.
I think its the fact that they are so overwhelmingly pushed as a genre that they now have a section that bothers me.
There is not an entire section in smiths for holocaust victims or 'losing my loved one to cancer' or 'my rape' - all of which would be valid if readers want insight and to uncover the truth of difficult life experiences.

I think its just a prurient interest that is acceptable because it's about children so it's 'caring.'

Anyway. Excuse me. This thread is too upsetting so I shall leave.

CailinDana Mon 01-Jul-13 15:11:16

There are millions of badly written mawkish books out there yet it is always abuse memoirs that get targeted. Why?

Arabesque Mon 01-Jul-13 15:11:53

I don't think they've been turned into an 'industry' in the same way Cailin. I certainly didn't have any objection when they first began to be published as I saw them as highlighting a hugely important issue that society was still quite ignorant of. But then more and more of them were being published, with increasingly lurid titles and manipulative covers. They were no longer highlighting a serious issue or providing new information but simply feeding a salscious market who just treated them as fictional entertainment; also they were like a green light to the usual attention seekers and drama queens who jump on every bandwagon going.
I just think there comes a point where over exposure to an issue can dilute it's real seriousness and the sense of genuine shock it should cause.

shewhowines Mon 01-Jul-13 15:12:08

callin whynot memoirs about war or some other horrific event?

Probably because they just seem so much more personal and you feel like you are intruding on peoples intimate lives.

Hullygully Mon 01-Jul-13 15:13:57

Because Cailin, they are not honest and meaningful accounts of terrible childhoods and abuse by genuine survivors, they are titillating abusefests largely made up to satisfy a peculiar voyeuristic need/desire that is very lucrative.

LEMisdisappointed Mon 01-Jul-13 15:14:24

I am not going to flame you but i just wanted to take up a few points from your op:

1. Am sadly too aware of this sort of thing gonig on from reading the papers/watching news. I don't want the sordid details.
2. I don't need to read the sordid details to empathise with those who have suffered abuse of any sort.
3. I am not sure i like the whole - There are others worse off than me, to make me feel better about my lot in life - yes, there are others alot worse off than i am and i remind myself of this bcause i suffer from depression but It does not make me feel better about myself to think, ok well at least im not.............whatever. I just feel sad that other people are in that position.

I remember my friend reading a hardback copy of a book about the Soames murders, with blown up pictures of the little girls on it. I questioned why she was reading it - she said it was important that people knew about these things hmm Like, who didn't know about it?

BegoniaBampot Mon 01-Jul-13 15:14:36

It's the fact that some people seem to enjoy reading about all this pain. Some people just seem to get pleasure in reading about other people's misery - I find this a bit weird and creepy. Wonder if they would have been in the front row for a good old hanging or guilottining.

spottybanana Mon 01-Jul-13 15:20:04

CailanDana is spot on.

Survivors should not be judged on whether they choose to talk about their abuse (or not). They have already been silenced, told what to do, how to act, and a million other things. If, as adults, they then decide they want to tell their story, surely they should be supported? No one has to read this genre - but I can't see why anyone would want to make a survivor feel even worse by criticising and silencing them in this way.

squeakytoy says, 'so many of these books have been discredited as being a fantasy of the authors imagination,' but that simply isn't true. Of the many that have been published, I think that about four have been successfully shown to be embellishing the truth. To claim otherwise is to undermine survivors - again.

LEMisdisappointed Mon 01-Jul-13 15:20:41

Begonia - tht is exactly what makes me uncomfortable. I read for pleasure (and sometimes for work/study) but if im reading for pleasure i don't actually want to read about something awful. I also want what i read to be well written, not ghost written by a tin pot author. Its like autobiographies - im not sure half of the people who produce these things can spell, let alone string a sentence together.

I actually would quite enjoy reading about normal people, having normal, every day lives with normal every day problems. Id even like to read about people with charmed childhoods - i'd much prefer that. They don't have to have grown up into anyone special - i'd just like to read about that sort of thing.......wanders off to download Cider with Rosie on my kindle.

CailinDana Mon 01-Jul-13 15:21:09

Shewho- you've indirectly hit on one of the biggest problems abuse survivors face - the fact that abuse unlike a seripus injury or other life changing events is considered private and intimate and not a suitable topic for conversation. That silence around abusecan be more damaging in some ways than the abuse itself as it creates a sense ofshame and secrecy.

CailinDana Mon 01-Jul-13 15:24:37

Do those who disapprove of these books also disapprove of crime fiction?

Hullygully Mon 01-Jul-13 15:26:29

crime fiction isn't written to sexually and inappropriately titillate like made up abuse "non"-fiction

Lottapianos Mon 01-Jul-13 15:26:30

I read a great book called 'After Silence' a couple of years ago - it was written by a rape survivor. One of the chapters is called 'The Woman In The Amber Necklace' and is about the author attending a lunch to celebrate the publication of her first book, which also discussed her rape. A stranger at the lunch (who was wearing an amber necklace) came up to the author to congratulate her on her publication but added 'of course, no one really wants to read about such things'.

The author was devastated by this comment and it took her months of psychotherapy to let go of the shame and guilt it brought up for her. She writes in the book that she hopes all readers will decide to allow other people to share their experiences without guilt or shame, and will vow to never ever be 'the woman with the amber necklace'.

CailinDana Mon 01-Jul-13 15:27:36

Imo there's nothing wrong with not liking the books - i don't read them myself. What bothers me is the judgy tone that always pops up when this is discussed - the sense tthat these books wrong somehow.

Hullygully Mon 01-Jul-13 15:29:14

But there's a real difference between thinking abuse isn't a fit subject for out loud discussion/writing and thinking a prurient interest in abuse for dodgy reasons should not be encouraged.

spottybanana Mon 01-Jul-13 15:30:18

LEMisdisappointed - that doesn't make any sense. Ghost writers make sure they are well written, otherwise survivors would be silenced even more as they wouldn't be able to write their story in a way that would get a publishing deal.

Many survivors have their education disrupted terribly - they are kept from school, they go there terrified someone will find out or desperate they will, they may act out because of the abuse and get in trouble, or they may be starving and steal food, they may never get a chance to do homework because their home is the least safe place in the world for them. If you want to make fun of that by saying, 'im not sure half of the people who produce these things can spell, let alone string a sentence together', then you most certainly are better off reading 'Cider With Rosie' somewhere your words will not hurt people who have already dealt with so much alienation and ignorance.

Hullygully Mon 01-Jul-13 15:30:40

Those books long since left the realm of the real. Once we had a Child Called It, every man/woman and their dog cat and goldfish churned out a moneyspinner. The publishers don't care if they are true or not if they sell, and the public with dodgy reasons for interest don't care either. It is all distasteful.

spottybanana Mon 01-Jul-13 15:31:37

Crime fiction has been written to sexually titillate, present rape as entertainment, and objectify women since it began.

CailinDana Mon 01-Jul-13 15:31:43

Hully - so should no abuse survivor write about what happened to them just in case someone gets a kick out of it?

LEMisdisappointed Mon 01-Jul-13 15:31:43

Cailindiana - i don't read crime fiction for very much that reason. I do read it, but it will either have to have some sort of super natural twist to it, or be a classic. Just the same as i don't like to watch films with excessive violence that "could be real" i see no entertainment in war or violence. I like a ghost story and quite happy about that but will make DP switch over if its gratuitous violence.

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