Tuesday, February 26, 2008

As Told By Mom, Dad, Granny, Aunt, Uncle....

Starbucks will be selling a book for you to read while you sip your carmel machiatto espresso corretto concoction. But their book is only one side of the story. Is this the wave of the publishing future? One tale, as told by father and son. When will the mother put out her version? Maybe a take on things from the dog are in the offing.

Misery lit is coming to the coffee shop. David Sheff tells the story of his son's meth addiction in all its gory detail, so that you can wallow in his tragedy and feel quite good about yourself. You can afford a cup of fancy brew at Starbucks, after all, so you've got that going for you. Now you can read about someone else's troubles and pat yourself on the back, knowing that you and yours would never sink so low.

Son Nic, the one who lived through the addiction, has put his deep thoughts and horrible experiences on paper as well. Through his lens of meth-muddled memory, you can explore the world of the addict as he journeys deeper into the depths of despair. Then you can turn to dad's book and see what it was like to watch such events unfold.

The twin tomes are made for book groups. Read them both, compare and contrast, what was it like for him and how could he cope with that.....before long you've descended into a chat about how it would never happen to you because your child doesn't do this, that, and the other, and you're a better parent than David, thank God.

Sheff pere et fils are on good terms these days, reading each other's books and gaining insight into one another's heads. How long will the camaraderie last, you have to wonder. How long before someone checks his Amazon ranking and compares it to the other, to revel in higher book sales and greater popularity? It's a dangerous and slippery slope, this notion of literary competition in the family.

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