Tuesday, 22 October 2013

1990s Nostalgia: Go Ask Alice by Anonymous

The year was 1995. I was in my second week of high school. And Go Ask Alice was one of those books. You know, the things that had bad stuff in them like drinking and drugs that well-meaning adults thought that thirteen-year-olds shouldn't be reading. And it was all based on a true story, taken straight from a young girl's diaries. So, naturally, I just had to pull it down from the shelves at my high school library and read it. The first half of the novel gave me what my mother often describes as the awes and shits. It's basically where you look at something and go, "Oooh ... shit!"

And then common sense kicked in. How could all that stuff really happen to one girl? How could she take drugs, make a full recovery start taking drugs again, run a successful business and get repeatedly raped without suffering any kind of side effects. And how cruel were her classmates and how convenient was her eventual death. And why the hell would her parents want her diary published?

I didn't have a clue. So I returned the book to the CBHS library, borrowed the latest Christopher Pike instead and basically forgot about it until I found a copy a few weeks ago.

Go Ask Alice as it turns out is a spectacular example of literary fraud. Edited by social worker Beatrice Sparks in 1971, she claims that it is the real life diary of a young woman addicted to drugs. There is no proof that the young author ever existed and Sparks own the sole copyright to the book as well as numerous other trashy diaries that she has published in the following years covering a range of issues including teenage pregnancy, religious cults and teacher-student relationships. The original diary (if there was one,) has never been found and Sparks claims to no longer have it in her possession. 

Definitely not a highlight of my teenage years, this is one that is not worthy of a revisit. I think I'll go and read a Christoper Pike book instead ...

2 comments:

  1. I've never heard of that book, but it reminds me of that dude that Oprah backed but it turned out he had made up most of his "true" story.

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    1. Yep, there have certainly been a few literary hoaxes over the years. There was a big one in Australia a while back, I don't know if you've heard of a purported autobiography called Forbidden Love? The author claimed that it was the true story, about a friend of hers who was murdered in an honour killing in Jordan. It was eventually revealed to have been made up, the book got pulled by the publishers and a lot of libraries put a self-imposed ban on the book. Later, someone made a documentary titled (what else,) Forbidden Lie$. Here is what the author herself had to say about the film ...

      http://www.theaustralian.com.au/news/features/at-home-with-norma/story-e6frg8h6-1111114341932

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