Sex, drugs, rock and roll...oh yawn

First, I'd like to say how very much I enjoy reading your particular corner of blogdom. You get karma points for the service you're providing, I'm sure.
Enough toadying, here's my question:

Are agents even considering addiction memoirs right now, given the big fat Frey debacle? Are they (and you) just passing them and the potential shit-storms that come with them over? Or does an honest, well-written account of junkie-hood still stand a chance, if its facts can be verified (or absolutely NOT, as the case may be)?

Thanks in advance.

Well, I'm just the worst person to ask cause I hate addiction memoirs. Really loathe them. This is of course not a comment on your work specifically cause I haven't read it, but in general, I turn these down with just the most cursory read through of the first page.

The impetus to write addiction memoir is laudable: "I went through hell, here's what I learned, maybe it can help you too."

Trouble is, once you've read Jerry Stahl, Stephen Elliot (oops, that's not a memoir, that's a NOVEL) and Augusten Burroughs (and this one is too, ok ok), not to mention William Burroughs, is there really anything new to say? We know you lived, we know you're sadder and wiser, ya ya ya.

There's a new book coming from Little, Brown in the fall called "The Real Animal House", by Chris Miller and it's a memoir by a guy who was in the movie. Now THAT is something I'd read cause I loved the movie, haven't read much about the making of it, and it's bound to be funny. Junkies barfing in the the toilet or turning tricks for cash, just can't compare to "can we dance with your dates" and Dean Wormer, no matter how well written.


mitzibel said...

Thanks for your honest answer! Seriously. I'm not going to quit trying to schill my book on the circuit, but you've given me insight as to how I need to package it to agents. I'd rather assumed that it wasn't going to be that difficult a sell, because I write at least as well as Mr. Stahl (one of my main influences, btw) even though I don't have "Alf" to my credit ;),and because although the "big-city rock'n'roll heroin junkie" genre seems oversaturated, the Midwest meth-cook memoir is, at least to Google, non-existent. So now I know that I need to be pushing my book's differences, rather than its similarities, to what is currently on the market.
Almost beside the point, I'd like to say a sincere "Thank You" for this blog itself. I have honestly learned more in one Sunday morning air-booth shift spent clicking around on your blog than I have in months of perusing "Writer's Market" and the like.
Your bitchiness. . .er, sorry, "snarkiness", is a most invaluable resource.
Thanks again.

Anonymous said...

Dear Miss Snark,
You read one memoir, you've read them all. You read one mystery, you've read them all. You read one romance, fantasy, science fiction, pulp, or thriller, you've read them all. Hell, you read one literary fiction, you've read them all--lots of big fancy words in flowing, flowery prose.

You read one heroic tale of a woman's struggle against an insane political regime, you've read them all (Compare Reading Lolita in Tehran with Into the Whirlwind, for example).

Really, better if you just said it's not your thang! (It's not mine, either.)

Anonymous said...

I read "Running With Scissors" and, well, wow. To me, one thing that makes a good book is unpredictability. I think Augustin may have ruined it for me as far as "addiction" books because after reading his book it is like Miss Snark said (paraphrasing), ho-hum. That just means you would have to really grab me with the back cover before I would read further. Just one guys opinion. Keep on keepin' on. -JTC

Jimmy said...

"You fucked up: you trusted us."

Evil minion #667 said...

"Every spring, the toilets explode."

_Animal House_ is actually a documentary - just done in a more entertaining style than most. Dartmouth College used to graduate one of the highest percentages of alcoholics in the country, or so they told me.

A.R.Yngve said...

Some "fighting an addiction" memoirs that didn't find a publisher:






Sarah said...

"They took THE BAR. The whole #*@&ing BAR!"

Actually, I think a memoir of my college years would read along the lines of Animal House. They really got that ol' college spirit down.

HawkOwl said...

The problem with memoirs, even addiction memoirs, is that they lack dramatic tension.

In my opinion.

Anonymous said...

Not only did Chris Miller act in Animal House, he was also one of the writers, along with Harold Ramis and Doug Kenny. He also wrote some of the funniest stuff for National Lampoon, when it used to be a magazine. Thanks for letting me know about the upcoming book, I'll be looking forward to it.

Bella Stander said...

THE Chris Miller is writing that book? I so idolized him in my teens, especially after he spoke at my high school. National Lampoon was required reading in my set. (Yeah, I'm dating myself, but so what?)

Anonymous said...

Let me date myself by saying I was in Animal House. Okay, I was just an extra, but still had a blast, uh, except for repeated watchings of John Belushi pretending to be a pimple and spitting cottage cheese in real life. Pretty gross. I will definitely want to read that book. Thanks for the tip.

diane s said...

I LOVE addiction memoirs. As long as they're well-written... Perhaps the why of that is better unexplored- maybe addiction beckons... xx

Mirym K. said...

My fiance goes to the college Animal House was filmed at (University of Oregon), and it seems to have not changed a whole lot over the years in that it's still a somewhat horrifying party school. If it weren't for the moderately sane Honors dorms, I think he'd go crazy.

That said, Animal House was an awesome movie.

Anonymous said...

_Animal House_ is not a documentary at all. It's fiction. Yes, it's based on some of Chris Miller's memories of Dartmouth, but to call it a "documentary" is stretching a bit.

Sadly, Dartmouth students are prodigious drunks (Keggy is an unofficial mascot here). I blame it on the long winters and the fact we're about three hours away from any big city -- only one of them being decent at all for partying. Vive Montreal! Boston? Even Dave Attell was stumped by Boston.

But the oh-so-clever pranks? Nope. At least not any more. I weep for our youth.

Anonymous said...

Thank you very much for pointing out how pointless memoirs and novels about addiction/depression/self-destructive behavior are. I participate in Speech competitions in Prose, where people perform excerpts from books. A going trend has been to do excerpts from books about the above topics. It's really just a plea for someone to score them higher (or, in this case, publish their book) out of a feeling of "well, it's so sad, I just can't not do it".