Thursday, 18 September 2014
Getting free from Accrington.
I could weep for the unhappy, abused children of the world but I know that there is little that I can do about their lives. When they grow up a few are able earn money by unburdening themselves in an autobiography and good luck to them. But misery-lit as it's known in the book trade is not my cup of tea; there is a whiff of voyeurism about the genre. Having said that, I have just finished reading Jeanette Winterson's Why Be Happy When You Could Be Normal? and although it would be hard to describe the author's childhood as anything other than miserable to categorise the book as misery-lit would be to do it a grave injustice. Winterson writes compellingly about love, adoption, politics and mental illness but what really gripped me was her description of Accrington in the 1960's. She could just as easily have been writing about the 1930's, or the 1860's. In the 50's we too shared an outside toilet but there the similarity between Leyton and Accrington ended. Up north, grim or not, it truly was a different world.