Review for "The Incest Diary" by Anonymous (2017) Rating: none
This is a very, very disturbing book.
The New York Times is very accurate when it called reading this book “a dive into the abyss.” This is almost correct. Reading this book was like a jump off of a cliff, hitting every single rock on the way down. There’s no way I enjoyed reading this, so I’m not giving this book a rating.
The writer of “The Incest Diary” is an anonymous woman who describes, in very frank detail, being raped by her father starting at age 3. The sexual abuse continues throughout her childhood until she begins, in a sadistic way, to crave his abuse. He exerts a perverted sense of control over her until she’s in her 20s and finally stops letting him dominate her. By all accounts, her mother was well aware of the fact that the author’s father was raping her and did nothing. There is also physical and emotional abuse inflicted by both her father and her mother, as well as multiple times in the narrative in which she told other people about it, but nobody does anything. It’s infuriating.
But that’s not the worst of it. There’s a jarring sense throughout this book that the author’s frank descriptions are not for the purpose of story-telling, but to titillate and eroticize her experience. While I can understand that prolonged sexual abuse can cause confusion and mixed emotions, words like ‘cock,’ ‘dick,’ and ‘pussy’ to describe the incest just made this book come off as training manual for people who do this sick shit with children. It’s a revolting thought, but it permeates this book.
Given the title, one might ask why I read it in the first place, knowing what it would entail. Honestly, I read this book because it was sitting in the library and I have to admit that it intrigued me. We hear about sexual abuse every day–in memoirs, on the news, in #metoo posts on Twitter–yet we don’t really want to hear their stories, do we? As a reviewer of books I am compelled to explore the human experience, and sometimes parts of that experience are cruel, dark, and scary. I think of myself as an intellectual who transcends fear of dark places.
Needless to say, I don’t recommend this book unless you have nerves of steel.
2 thoughts on “Review: The Incest Diary”
Wow, this sounds intense. I saw it covered somewhere, in a review in NYT or NPR or something, I can’t quite remember. It seemed controversial, obviously for the frank discussion of the subject matter but also for the kind of reasons you mention, about what it’s really intended to do, either to inform and make aware or in some disgusting way to titillate. So I wasn’t sure about it. Really interesting review.