Join Alice and her friends for a tea party

Tomorrow (Saturday 8 August) we are having a Mad Hatter’s Tea Party at the Centre for the Child in Central Library.  Come along and join Alice, the Mad Hatter, White Rabbit, Doormouse and March Hare for some weird and wacky fun and refreshments.  The folks from Natural Magic will also be joining us to perform an old fashioned Punch and Judy  show.

This event is FREE so just come along at 1:30 and join in the fun.

Farewell to misery?

The “misery memoir” genre has been failing in health for some time, but has now, hopefully, bitten the proverbial with the demise last month of Frank McCourt.

McCourt, lovely chap that he was, kick-started the whole “if you think you had it bad get a load of this” childhood neglect/abuse/addiction/illness memoir with the Pulitzer prize winning Angela’s Ashes published in 1996. Little did he know the monster he’d unleashed.  Appalling childhood stories of deprivation have subsequently become de rigueur, each one trying to “out-mis” the last.

This need to marvel at others ability to triumph over adversity may be a deeply fixed facet of human nature. Let’s face it Bible stories are pretty gruelling. Perhaps digesting woeful tales of abandonment, hardship and horror  allow us to reflect on our own lives and think “it ain’t so bad”.

All well and good  but several notorious mis-memoir scandals have revealed both publisher and reader gullibility in the quest for a tragic tale.

  • James Frey’s 2003 memoir A million little pieces about his battle with crack was exposed as “fiction addiction” by The Smoking Gun website and he was, horror-of-horrors, subsequently spurned by Oprah, dropped by his agent and lost his book deal.
  • The veracity of Love and consequences by Margaret B Jones, detailing her poor, druggie  LA childhood, was queried by the author’s sister and whoops, indeed her story turned out to be fiction.  So not a half-white, half native American Indian? No foster family? No drugs and drug couriering? All fibs unfortunately, in fact a white, middle-class, private school educated single Mom. Tricky indeed.
  • Kathy O’Beirne, the author of Kathy’s Story: A True Tale of a Childhood Destroyed by Neglect and Fear has similarly faced questions about the authenticity of her time in an Irish Magdalene Asylum. Her publishers declined to publish a planned follow-up and her family have had a right good stoush about it.

So in place of misery we can probably anticipate more celebrity cook-books, self-help titles and paranormal romances to keep our library shelves full. Hurrah!