A recent visit to a chain bookshop that shall not be named saw me looking in disbelief at a display they had set up by the front entrance. It was a small wall of misery memoirs, of the abused child variety.
There are a couple of odd things about this: first of all, I've never understood the hunger people have to read about this stuff. One or two books, sure, that might make sense. But when I worked in a bookshop, the same people would buy these things by the score. They would start off with a Dave Pelzer or two, and soon they'd be waist-deep in child rape, bashings and underage prostitution.
I don't know whether these customers were former abuse victims themselves, unable to tear their minds off a topic which had become all-consuming, or whether they were getting a voyeuristic and, frankly, pornographic kick out of these books (see also the endless lovingly described serial-killer/torture-porn that has become de rigeur in certain blockbuster thrillers these days). Shit, I sound like an old man.
Secondly, and more startlingly, all of these books look exactly the bloody same!
How does the modern child-abuse afficionado remember which ones they've read? They all use the same limited pastel palette, washed-out photos of unhappy kids, unconvincing "hand-drawn" fonts for titles, and (except in a couple of cases) little sans-serif fonts for author names.
(Please note: I am not making mock of the abused, I am simply depressed by the commodification of child misery and by the vast audience it commands.)