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Painful lives

Mooching around a book shop yesterday in search of a late Christmas present for myself, I noted that next to the biographies was an entire section labelled 'Painful Lives'. Although I did not do much more than scan the stacked books, the category would look to be a 1001 variations on the 'Angela's Ashes' theme.

A few things spring to mind - firstly, there must be a demographic that goes out of its way to read this sort of grief / pain pornography, repeatedly. Otherwise, why would Waterstones (for it is they) have a whole section of this sort? Alternatively, and I think this is actually worse, folk will be dodging around in a bookshop wondering what to buy, and espying that section the dilemma resolves itself.

Secondly, if this is the current big thing in publishing, there must be scope for further specialisation and sub-categorising - say 'Celtic childhood, featuring unloving mother and heroin abuse', 'Sibling bullying with suggestions of incest', 'Insensitive boss who made unsisterly comments about unsuccessful diet', 'Awful school years in the North, made bearable only by faithful dog which then contracted mange and had to be put down'.

All concerned could save themselves a great deal of effort by rooting around on the internet for blues lyrics, frankly.

Meanwhile, there is the old joke about the punter seeking the self-help section, but being told that to be directed to it would defeat the object.


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Blogger Novlangue said... 9:21 am

Excellent post.

Btw, the link to the Hitch doesn't work. Is he OK?

Harbhajan Singh.  

Blogger Croydonian said... 9:26 am

Ah, I've failed to keep up with El Hitch's aliases. I'll see what I can do.  

Blogger hatfield girl said... 11:07 am

'Mooching around a book shop yesterday in search of a late Christmas present for myself...'

has to be one of the great opening phrases, up there with

'Those who have read Thoreau's 'Walden' will remember his friend the Canadian woodchopper.',

'At the sunset hour of one warm spring day two men were to be seen at Patriarch's Ponds.'

It contains such promise of what is to be read next.  

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