Thursday, December 27, 2007

Fact or Fiction

The other day I was in Urban Outfitters doing some last minute Christmas shopping (I didn't buy anything there, just kinda looking around) and I happened upon some books. First, it's kinda weird that UO has books, like real books, not just funny coffee table books. They have a lot of Chuck Klosterman (who I've mentioned here before) and they had some funny sex books (which I didn't look at at all, Dad). But they also had this book called "Go Ask Alice." You've probably heard of it. It's written by that prolific writer Anonymous, about a teenage girl in the 60's who "accidentally" takes LSD and then gets hooked on drugs, runs away, has lots of casual sex, gets raped, goes back home, tries to kick the habit, gets tricked into doing drugs again, ends up in the psych ward and finally gets off the drugs and back home before she mysteriously dies at 17 (accidental overdose, suicide, we'll never know).

Anywhoo, I read this book back in jr. high (though, having gone to 6-8th grade in Chicago, didn't actually go to Jr. High, but whatever). I remember being fascinated with this true story. It's so interesting to see into someone's inner thoughts. Unfortunately, as I was flipping through it, I realized that there was no way this book was written by an actual teenager. The voice just didn't sound true. So this morning I looked it up (I love the Internet) and sure enough, while it's never been 100 percent confirmed, the story is made up. The psychologist/"editor" of the book, Beatrice Sparks may have used patient stories to weave this cautionary tale, but the more you learn about her (she's a Mormon) and the other books she's written (fascinating tales and pseudo journals such as "Jay's Journal," "It Happened to Nancy," and "Annie's Baby: The diary of Anonymous, a Pregnant Teenager," you start to see a trend.

So now I'm starting to feel jipped, in the same way Oprah and the rest of the reading public felt jipped by "A Million Little Pieces" and James Frey. We like to peep into people's hidden lives, but we don't like to be lied to. Of course, it doesn't help that Beatrice also seems to have a bit of an agenda. The article on Snopes outlines all the ways the book not only makes it clear that drugs are bad, but that any part of the 60's counter culture and broken homes spells doom for teenagers.

Regardless of her agenda, I do find it interesting why we like to know private stuff about each other. Is this a cultural thing? Mr. H. generally ignores gossip and tabloids. Maybe it's because he's English. Of course, some of the best tabloids are from England, so that can't be it. Maybe it's just human nature. We want to know what makes other people tick so we can figure out what makes us tick. When I read memoirs, I know that my life isn't that bad or that crazy or that I'm at least normal (whatever that means).

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

It's okay, you're married now... read a sex book every now and again.

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