Tuesday, June 7, 2016

Misery and Me: A Memoir

Why didn't I think of that for the title of my memoir: 'Misery and Me: A Memoir'? All those emmmmms! -- you know how I admire, accrue and alight upon alliteration.

In fact, I am thinking hard about writing a feminist memoir to the title: 'Misogyny and Me: A Mindfuck', but that doesn't quite have the same ring of recognition to it and at least one of those words probably wouldn't make it past the book-title censors (misogyny).

But no. There is a reason I didn't title my memoir 'Misery and Me', and that reason was made clearer to me on the weekend when the Sydney Morning Herald explained that my memoir is not a 'misery memoir', nor an 'inspirational memoir' indeed, but a memoir of 'ordinary events and aspirations' from a 'fairly typical' family and girl.

So there is that: my life is not, or at least was not when I was growing up, miserable. Nor was it inspirational, which is the word used for misery overcome. Rather, it was ordinary and typical.

So why do I (want to) feel so miserable then?

Well, there used to be a saying: it's better to be ugly than plain. Similarly, it might be said, it is better to be miserable than ordinary.

Except, no. Not quite.

I had my moments of misery growing up, don't you worry about that. Indeed my tears provided the main source of irrigation in our neighbourhood during the otherwise dry, brown-grass months. But I didn't want to burden you with those tears (the editors cut them out), in part, I now think, because before writing it, I had cried my way through writing a PhD thesis on a topic: domestic abuse and homicide, that is Miserable with a capital M and I'd had misery up to here (indicates the high sky) when I'd finally, after ten years of tears, finished it.

Indeed the thesis taught me, in oh so many ways, what true misery was and that my own happiness lay in finding a way to laugh at myself, and life, as therapy. It also taught me that I'm far too emotional to work as an effective academic. Never mind; better late than never.

So where Jeanette Winterson's deranged mother told her: Why be happy when you could be normal? which she turned into the title of her own brilliantly ironic 'misery memoir', my non-misery memoir might be alternatively titled: 'Why be miserable when you could be ordinary?' It's better to laugh than cry, indeed, just not quite so inspiring (or lucrative, I dare say). The miserable shall inherit the earth, and I guess, all said and done, that's fair enough.

SMH 4.6.16.

1 comment:

  1. A modern coming of age story, King of Stars shines light on the uncomfortable. On situations often left hidden in shadow.