The Incest Diary

Via Publisher’s Weekly:

An anonymous author reveals a lifetime of secrets in this unforgettable memoir as she tells the story of her relationship with her father, who raped her over the course of her childhood, until the author was 21. The result is one of the most frank and cathartic depictions of child abuse ever written. The author recalls abusing her Barbie dolls, her sense of being the “other woman” to her own mother, and the mingling of violence with desire, a tendency so crucial to the author’s development that it continues to govern her adult relationships. This is not a story of things getting better, but an unflinching and staggeringly artful portrait of a shattered life. “Sex with my father made me an orphan,” she writes, and the feeling is underscored, pages later, with a fact: “He threatened to kill himself if I told anyone.” Works of art by Fernando Botero and Frida Kahlo are invoked throughout, as are the fairy tales in which the author searches for analogues to explain her condition. But by the end of the book, she has articulated an experience that for many victims remains unspeakable. (July) 

Emphasis mine


Disclaimer: I haven’t read this book, and I’m not sure that I particularly want to. What intrigues me about this very brief description, however, is the lack of any redemptive arc. If this snippet is to be believed, the subject of this work is simply acquaintance with profound misery and the suffering that comes with the twisting of a young life. Note the sentence bolded above: “This is not a story of things getting better, but an unflinching and staggeringly artful portrait of a shattered life.”

Is there value in a raw, visceral depiction of pain, brokenness, criminality, and sin? Absolutely.

There is, however, a strand of our culture–a minority report if you will–that esteems entering into, remaining present to, and almost basking in that suffering. It’s an approach that is fueled by the absence of larger moral vision.

Granted this may be a reaction to the overwhelming optimism that marks the American psyche.

Still, this book looks like a difficult read.


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