Tuesday, July 07, 2009

Tragic life stories

WH Smiths now appears to have a policy of hawking sweets at the counter. The assistant points to an array of untempting chocs and tries to force an impulse-buy out of you. What next, pushing fishing magazines door-to-door? Hustling for Panini football sticker trade on street corners? Smiths used to be respectable. Now, like Woolies, it has lost its identity and become a place that sells a bunch of things which, when you want them, you buy somewhere else. It will soon die.

It also has a book section called ‘Tragic Life Stories’. I was dimly aware of the existence of the ‘misery memoir’ genre – I understand that Irish nuns and fakery are heavily involved – but I had no idea it was so crowded. They all have similar cover art so that you won’t mistake them for real books.



It is, as Worm suggests, time for grunge. Come on, lads, we’re taking to the hills. Start all over again. Burn Brown and Balls on a bonfire of tragic life stories. The Malls are over, the cities are all up. It’s finished. Time for the countryside, time for the soil.

7 comments:

monix said...

I sometimes put books on Read It Swap It and once had an offer from someone whose list of swaps consisted of 36 misery memoirs. Just reading the titles made me feel quite ill.

Gadjo Dilo said...

Good grief I didn't know about this new genre. Such things should be kept very very secret and not displayed on shop bookcases - I've no intention of browsing books on a shelf labeled "Books That Teach You Something More About Humanity But Also the Photo of the Authoress on the Back Cover is Quite Sexy".

worm said...

obviously, not being female, I still have yet to fathom why somebody would be interested in reading about somebody else's miserable childhood?

- Especially if that author is unremarkable in every way, save for the fact that they got locked in a cupboard at bedtime

I'm going to get my Lemonheads and Hole cd's out of the cupboard and begin planning for the grunge new world

Gaw said...

At the Tragic Life Stories book prize award ceremony - who do the winners thank? Just their agents presumably. (Would it be the Onion Prize for Miserabilist Semi-Fiction?)

Brit said...

36 misery memoirs? Dear me. It must be an addictive pleasure. I imagine that with so many of them about there must be inflationary pressures, so that the misery must be continually ramped up (as in the Python yorkshireman sketch).

worm said...

when are we going to see the first misery memoir penned by some poor student forced to work in WHSmiths hawking nearly-out-of-date Cadburys chocolate bars during their summer holidays?

Brit said...

Do these things have happy endings, I wonder? ie. are they stories of the triumph of the individual spirit, or are they Freudian explanations for adult screw-ups?