The Success of Misery Literature
August 13, 2008 12:21am CST
Ever since Dave Pelzer wrote "A Child Called 'It'", there has been a large horde of books following his style, as documented by articles in the Telegraph (http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/uknews/1505750/%27Harrowing,-grisly,-gut-wrenching...-Sensational-stuff!-Not-to-be-missed%27.html) and the Guardian (http://www.guardian.co.uk/books/2006/jan/29/biography.features). Many of these are bestsellers, with 11 out of 100 on a bestseller list being misery memoirs. Some fellows interviewed in the articles believe that misery literature, or mis lit, as it is commonly called among publishers, gives readers "voyeuristic appeal". Others say it's used to compare their own lives to, a sense of Schadenfreude. Still others say that they're just reading to sympathize with the writer. Several posters in the articles have also wrote about their suspicions of the writers' intentions--some say the authors wrote purely for monetary gain, whereas others argue in favor of cathartic relief. Any thoughts about why we as a society seem to be so fascinated by these books?