Saturday, July 24, 2010

Book Review: Dear Diary

I picked this one up at McKays because the cover reminded me a lot of Mortified (edited by David Nagel), which I enjoyed.  I also needed a book for a quarterly challenge my NBC girls do that is in diary form and the premise for this book sounded hilarious.  The book is made up of entries from the author's diary from middle school through her post-college years.  She also includes updated commentary on her diary entries and interviews some of the people she wrote about.  The back cover blurbs all talk about how funny and poignant it is, etc, etc. 

Sorry guys.  Not funny.  And not poignant.  Really, really annoying is more like it.  Warning sign #1 should have been the forward by Chloe Sevigny about how this is such a great reflection on the typical high school experience and how everyone can find something to identify with.  The one thing that kept me from putting the book down was that I wanted to be sure that I was annoyed by the author's writing not just by the fact that I couldn't identify with anything that ever happened to her.  Obviously I'm pretty conservative, so I didn't want my personal opinions on drug use to color my analysis of the author's writing.  And I can say with a pretty fair amount of certainty that they didn't.  It's just not well done. 

First of all, there are a million typos.  Beyond the typos, there are several places where I stopped and read sentences over and over again and never could figure out what the author was saying.  It was like she would start a thought and forget what she was talking about mid-sentence.  Her is a paraphrase of one that really jumped out at me "My friend Charlene, who was never into drugs until she met a man who was a junkie and suddenly she became a junkie overnight."  And that would be the end of the thought.  And I'd be thinking "This sentence has NO VERB!" - which is fine in certain cases, but this was not intentional.  And it happened multiple times.

Finally, I think the author may just be friends with James Frey.  My issue with Frey is not that he ficitonalized parts of his memoir (that's why it's a memoir not an autobiography - someone tell Oprah, please) but that he didn't do it well.  I've read several other drug use/abuse/troubled family memoirs and not really questioned what the author was telling me.  I'm a very trusting person.  But in both Frey's book A Million Little Pieces and in Dear Diary I found myself frequently thinking "Really?  That really happened?  Your were able to get on an airplane with a hole in your face and no one said anything about it?  Really???"

I really wanted to like this book, but I'm so confused by the way it was marketed as humorous.  Literally not a single funny thing happens.  I don't think I even smiled while reading it.  It's a definite no as a recommendation and I'm disappointed that I lost the $1 it cost from the discount bin at McKays.


  1. Gotta love "funny" books that don't even make you crack a smile. Those are my faves. :-)

  2. I'm pretty sure Chloe Sevigny and I had very different high school experiences.