Wednesday, December 21, 2011

A Stolen Life, by Jaycee Dugard

Alicia Erian, author of the novel "Towelhead" and upcoming memoir, "The Dragon Lies Down", told me that some stories are too fascinating to be ruined by pedestrian writing. To illustrate her point she mentioned "Fish: A Memoir of a Boy in a Man's Prison," by T.J. Parsell, "My Lobotomy," by Howard Dully, and "A Stolen Life," by Jaycee Dugard. I had never considered reading Dugard's story. Why? I imagined I'd feel slimey, like a voyeur.

When Erian told me Dugard's memoir riveted, I decided to shelve my misgivings and put "A Stolen Life" at the top of my to-read list.

Dugard does an admirable job. She tells her story evenhandedly, and avoids getting caught up in emotion. Given what she's gone through, that's a literary miracle in and of itself. In Dugard's case, not being a writer may be a plus; it's hard to imagine being able to read a story like this if the teller had gone at it with a heavy hand. The writing doesn't dazzle but just as Erian said, I didn't much care. And sometimes the lack of writing mojo worked to Dugard's benefit; that she was able to periodically break into platitudes, casting a little sunshine -- something that would diminish most other stories -- made her story even more compelling. As added value, for those of you who, like me, prefer audiobooks, Dugard narrates "A Stolen Life."

It occurs to me that I thought 'A Stolen Life" would leave me feeling sad and scared. When I think about Dugard and how she survived this nightmare, though, what I'm left with is hope.

1 comment:

  1. I read it and especially the beginning was so hard to keep reading at times. What bothered me was the fact that after the hard parts for us to read,she continued dealing with the trials the whole time she was with them.

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