I really do love making lists and book lists are no exception. A woman came in the other day looking for a book “like Go Ask Alice” At the time, I have to admit, I drew a blank. But after she left I thought of a pretty good list, if I do say so myself, and clearly I already did….
Baby Driver by Jan KerouacThe first of Kerouac’s memoirs, guiding you through her earliest years of drugs, probation and teen pregnancy. She has her father’s wanderlust and his amazing gift to secure a whirlwind life on a printed page.
Trainsong by Jan KerouacTrainsong carries on Kerouac’s misadventures; marriage and love affairs, drugs and drink, and globetrotting. She was a woman who shook every last drop out of life.
Liar’s Club by Mary KarrKarr’s earliest years in a small Texas town. A childhood filled with memories of her father’s drinking and her mother’s manic episodes. This memoir can be as funny as is it brutally honest.
Lit by Mary KarrKarr’s newest memoir, completing a trilogy that concludes at the time in her life when she finishes her first memoir. A gritty uninhibited full circle.
The Bell Jar by Sylvia PlathA novel based closely on Plath’s college years. A talented young woman, having just moved to New York City to intern at a popular women’s magazine, begins a downward spiral that eventually lands her in a mental institution. The inner workings of such a person is hauntingly captured and not easily forgotten.
Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas by Hunter S. ThompsonThe mother of the major motion picture of the same name and a failed experiment in Thompson’s eyes. His plan was to publish the piece with absolutely no editing, but in fact the manuscript was rewritten 5 times. Despite that fact, this example of Gonzo Journalism is Thompson’s most popular. An erratic read about extremists, drugs and Las Vegas.
Rum Diaries by Hunter S. ThompsonA fictional account based on Thompson’s years in Puerto Rico. The novel tells of the alcoholic lusts and entangled and violent love affairs between the American staff writers on a San Juan newspaper.
Geek Love by Katharine DunnDunn’s debut novel chronicling the lives of the Binewski family. Al and Lil Binewski own a traveling circus and when the run into financial trouble they decide to breed their own freakshow. Al mixes up special concoctions consisting of various drugs and radioactive material that Lil injests during pregnancy to alter their children’s genes. Dunn worked on the novel for 10 years. She was influenced by the rise of cults and the Jonestown massacre, and inspired by a rose garden in Portland, Oregon.
Middlesex by Jeffrey EugenidesA tangled web of family secrets split between the life of a young narrator stricken with 5-Alpha-reductase deficiency and his family history, starting with his grandparents fleeing Greece in the 1920s. Written in the form of a memoir, this novel delves into the American Dream, race relations, nature vs. nurture, gender identity and incest.
Push by SapphireThis novel’s main character is riddled with countless obstacles. She’s an overweight, illiterate, African American growing up in New York’s inner city. Her father rapes her and her mother beats her. The only place she can find solace, is in her creative writing class. This novel is not for the faint of heart. It’s also spawned the movie Precious.
Dead End Gene Pool by Wendy BurdenBurden writes with humor as she describes the downfall of a rich family and her role, likened often to Wednesday Addams, as an unwanted child to a dead father and drunk mother.
Tweak by Nic SheffSheff’s is another childhood of booze and drugs. He’s drunk for the first time at age 11 and quickly moved on to heroine and methamphetamines. After thinking he had his life under control and could stop anytime that he needed to, a relapse puts his life in check and forces him into recovery.
followed by Beautiful Boy by David Sheff, the father’s side of the story.David Sheff is a journalist who, after his son’s drug addiction seems beyond hope, researches every avenue to save his son. Trying to answer the haunting questions revolving around Nic’s addiction,relapse, and recovery, David captures the thoughts of a father struggling to rediscover the son he’s temporarily lost to drugs.
This concludes my list. I know that there are countless more reads that could make this list and if you have one you’d like to share, please do so.