Misery lit

Misery lit

The term ‘misery lit’ has been used to describe the growing genre of autobiographies describing horrific childhoods of poverty and often abuse. I usually avoid this genre given its grimness, but was given Ma, he sold me for a few cigarettes by Martha Long earlier this year and have just finished reading it.

It is a very well written and an appalling story of a child growing up in Ireland under shocking circumstances in the 1950s. It’s hard to believe the horror of what is described, but it is written in such a clear and honest voice that you can’t help but face up to the reality.

This is not the first of this genre I’ve read. A few year’s ago I read Frank McCourt’s excellent Angela’s Ashes and was also given Once in a House on Fire by Andrea Ashworth, which is also very well written.

I am glad I read ‘Ma, he sold me for a few cigarettes’. It deserves to be read. I feel that I learned some social history from it and that documenting such stories is important, not least for the authors who have overcome enormous adversity. But I’m not going to be reading any more ‘misery lit’ if I can help it.