Since leaving my Dork School peer group for greener pastures, I've not met another fan of McDaniel's cannon of Dying Children Lit -- until last weekend when I met my friend's sister who was also a big fan, which is AMAZING, and we bonded over it.
Also, I just started reading Rachel Shukert's Have You No Shame, in which the author's mother uncovers her daughter's collection of Holocaust Lit and replaces the books with Babysitters Club and Sweet Valley High, delaring that: "I'd rather have you shallow and sexually precocious than morbidly psychotic."
So I started thinking about all the morbidly psychotic books I read as a kid. I wasn't allowed to read Christopher Pike or R.L Stine like everyone else (see: mother's general desire for me to be ostracized from peers), but I feel like the shit I was allowed to read was probs way worse for my little baby mind than those authors' straightforward & blatant horror/violence.
Which brings us to an actual Sunday Top Ten. For the first time since um ... oh, I don't know.
or "Things that affected me more than going to the mall w/o a parent would've."
10. Cynthia Voigt's "Tillerman" Series: Homecoming, Dicey's Song, et al., also The Boxcar Children
Amped up my desire to be an orphan forced to live by my wits,
as well as my certainty that I'd be better off alone like the pop song "Better Off Alone,"
therefore increasing my implicitly unfair & ungrateful resentment towards my family for feeding, clothing and loving me,
inspiring me to write my own bad novels about runaways.
Also, how dykey does Dicey look on that book cover? Yow.
As I mentioned in the "Family Film Edition" of "What I Learned from the Teevee," I was a big fan of Orphan Lit and wanted to live in a Boxcar, eat hobo stew and scavenge for loaves of bread, etc. Unfortunately, I was never orphaned, though I enjoyed building forts and pretending to run away from home. Honestly, my coping mechanisms haven't really changed much since then.
9. The Face on the Milk Carton, by Caroline B. Cooney
8. The Clockwork Orange, by Anthony Burgess
Romanticisation of Suicide, Additional Reasons to Fuck it All
Second Star to the Right, Stick Figure, and Little Girls in Pretty Boxes
Angela [distracted]: Lucky.
Teacher: "Anne Frank perished in a concentration camp. Anne Frank is a tragic figure. How could Anne Frank be lucky?"
[Jordan Catalano walks in, late]
Angela: "I don't know... Because she was trapped in an attic for three years with this guy she really liked?"
(My So-Called Life)
5. Judy Blume Novels
As I've mentioned 500 times, I'm essentially a human sponge, willing to take orders and absorb desire from whomever's speaking the loudest. Through Judy Blume, I verified that I was, indeed, justified to angst over my bust which wasn't increasing though I thought it must, it must, and that the best way to bond with other girls was via boy-related discussions. I've since learned otherwise, but I still love Judy. The girls in Blume novels are relentlessly catty and tell me srsly if you can't imagine this on the back of a porn DVD: "Rachel is Stephanie's best friend. Since second grade they've shared secrets, good and bad. So when Alison moves into the neighborhood, Stephanie hopes all three of them can be best friends since Stephanie really likes Alison. But it looks as if it's going to be a case of two's company and three's a crowd." Anyone? "In bed"? I know I was reading Lolita at 12, but c'mon now ...
3. Entries From a Hot Pink Notebook, by Todd D. Brown
Felt I related to the protagonist's psyche deeply,
began early fascination with gay male culture,
subsequently realizing literally as I write this that perhaps I identified with the narrator's feelings of alienation and outsiderdom for other reasons,
e.g., personal gayness.
2. Lurlene McDaniel books
Basically, Lurlene McDaniel peddles the most demented books of all time, and I somehow ate them up. We all did. I imitated them, too, with similar plots in novels I wrote (for fun?). I guess we all felt strange and sad all the time for no reason, our little Dork School, filled with kids who suspected that, given the chance, public school would eat us alive and stuff us into lockers, and also: that perhaps we weren't fooling anyone (least of all ourselves) by avoiding the resolute knowledge that our problems weren't really problems, actually. We read the newspaper. We had politically aware parents. We didn't know jackshit, hadn't lived through anything worth crying over. Faces on Spilled Milk Cartons.
I coped w/my sense of alienation as a kid by reading, constantly, both intelligent books not mentioned here and the lame stuff I'm talking about here ... or by trying to be like everyone else as best I could though I felt hopelessly different. I'd been sad all the time for no reason as long as I can remember ... while driving w/my Mom from one place I was running from to another place, I mentioned wanting to get back to some childhood place where I'd been happy and she said I'd actually never been. "Intense," was her word. I guess I knew that already, I just wanted her to disagree, or blow it off. 'Cause I mean, seriously. I don't mention Elizabeth Wurtzel all the time for no reason, I'm legitimately afraid of her & her entitled torture, her ... whining.
I had an association and fascination with terrible & morbid circumstances and latched onto the littlest things to excuse my moodiness -- these books tapped into the part of me that wanted a reason for it. I wanted to be told, again and again, that tragedy waited around the corner. I'm certain there must've been wood nearby worth knocking on, if I'd known enough to do so. Clearly; I knew nothing.
"I know sad stories aren't for every reader, but it's the kind of story that most of my readers like from me. When I write "happy" books, many readers complain. So I focus on what I do best---stories that might bring a tear, but that focus on real life (where happily ever after rarely occurs). And while the books may not have "happy" endings, I try to give readers a satisfying ending---life is full of trouble and matters out of our control. How we deal with troubles determines our own character."
(Words of Wisdom from Lurlene McDaniel, clearly a Sick Puppy)
1. Sweet Valley High
Howevs, I'd like to once again point out that nothing scary ever happened to me at the mall, except for this:
On that note of "things I did 'cause everyone else was doing it," if anyone's got a bridge in Brooklyn they'd like to sell me ...