Saturday, June 16, 2007

Revelling in Misery

I recently commented that we are drowning in misery memoirs, and in yesterday's Guardian Esther Addley considers why they are so popular and have taken the publishing industry by storm, indeed creating a whole new readership. Is it prurience that's operating here, as psychologist Oliver James 'unsettlingly' allows it could be? Or is it catharsis as one publisher claims - less worrying, if you overlook the implication that, as James, says 'a hell of a lot of people have had ... cruelty inflicted on them'? Or is it this, which he also allows, and which I am always saying: that 'when you read them you feel that your own lot isn't quite so bad' (which means of course that they lack the universal power of fiction)?
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