Nearly a decade ago, when I first moved to San Francisco and wanted to write a book (and had only the first inklings that I would write a memoir), I joined my first writing group. The three of us, all in our early to mid-twenties, went full-on literary-wannabe and met in North Beach at the old Beat haunt bar Vesuvio’s, right across from City Lights Books.
Jessie Sholl was writing moving short stories then about a sensitive girl with a confounding absent mother. Now she’s got a new memoir just out, Dirty Secret: A Daughter Comes Clean About Her Mother’s Compulsive Hoarding. I’ll be attending Jessie’s reading at the El Cerrito Barnes and Noble next Monday (wish I could also attend her reading at the Book Passage Ferry Building store in SF on Tuesday) and can’t wait to get the book. Here are some reviews:
“Sholl explores the psychological reasons why being merely a pack rat can erupt into full-blown hoarding. By the end you’re sympathetic to both mother and daughter and understand how a parent’s obsession can become a child’s.”
— People magazine, 3.5 stars (out of 4).
— Redbook magazine
“Suspenseful and novel-like, Dirty Secret is a wonderful, respectful introduction to the world of a hoarder and the tribulations suffered by both the individual who hoards and their family members.”
— Fugen Neziroglu, Ph.D. author of Overcoming Compulsive Hoarding: Why You Save and How You Can Stop
“Affecting and illuminating.”
— Kirkus Reviews
“[Sholl] offers a compelling and compassionate perspective on an illness suffered by an estimated six million Americans that has only recently been explored through reality television programs.”
The third member of our group, a wonderful writer named Adrianne Bee, has also been working on a memoir, and from what I have read in draft form, it is gorgeous. One day all three of us Vesuvio-haunting aspirants will have memoirs out in the world. Amazing.