Right now, I am mad at my parents.
I'm mad because they gave me a totally normal childhood. Normal is boring; it cannot be parlayed into a best-selling book and a fat bank account. I am currently reading Let's Pretend This Never Happened (A Mostly True Memoir) by Jenny Lawson. Ms. Lawson is a blogger and columnist for the Houston Chronicle. She is recognized by both Nielsen and Forbes as one of the top female/mom bloggers in the United States. Her personal blog, The Blogess, averages over 83,000 page views a day. By contrast, the first 15 days of this month, I averaged a paltry 20 page views, not counting a really weird spike on May 11 of 705 page views, which would make my daily average a much more respectable 500 views. On either side of May 11 was 23 views the day before and a miserable 2 the day after. The 705 has got to be some kind of freakish mistake, unless my rant on May 7 made the rounds on Texas Tech's Greek Circle.
2,500,000 page views a month and a best-seller, all thanks to growing up poor in a small west Texas town with a taxidermist father who made hand puppets out of roadkill, and tossed live bobcats on unsuspecting people. Not to mention the author's depression, anxiety disorders, and a propensity to fling F-bombs and talk about her vagina like it is her next door neighbor, which I suppose it is, anatomically speaking.
Another big best-seller about family dysfunction was Running With Scissors by Augusten Burroughs. I bought this book because I was amused by the title, and because the cover photo, a picture of a little boy with a box over his head, duped me into thinking the story was going to be a millennial version of the classic To Kill a Mockingbird, only written from a boy's point of view. Geez, was I wrong. Both books feature rape, but while Mockingbird merely dipped a foot in that pool, Running was a full-on cannonball into the deep end.
Still another author who was able to morph her lousy childhood into a book is Monica Holloway in Driving With Dead People. I don't know if her book cracked any best-seller lists, but she, at least, managed to get published; a feat I still fantasize about, unless you count the two times I got letters to the editor printed in the Dallas Morning News, which I don't, although the second letter did generate some replies from other readers that were printed a few days later.
Getting off the dysfunction train is Haven Kimmel's A Girl Named Zippy. This book actually does have Mockingbird's charm and innocence. Kimmel's childhood was merely different, but different enough to give her a wealth of off-beat experiences and oddball characters. Unfortunately, I cannot come up with anything truly off-beat in my own growing up years. Well, there was the time when I had chipmunks for pets, but no way I could make an entire book about that experience, as smelly and tiring as it was. Smelly, because rodent urine is potent, as anyone who's kept mice or hamsters would know, and tiring because the little buggers escaped all the time.
Don't get me wrong, I wouldn't change what I had for anything, but it's aggravating to know that if I penned an autobiography no publisher would touch it because it would be too boringly vanilla. Actually, let's be honest here and say it wouldn't get published because it wouldn't get written in the first place: just the writing of it would put me to sleep. Except for the chipmunks. Look for that in another blog.
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