Kevin Sampsell’s A Common Pornography is a memoir, told in vignettes, that captures the history of one dysfunctional American family. An extension of a 2003 "memory experiment" of the same name, A Common Pornography weaves recollections of small-town youth with darker threads from his family’s story, including incest, madness, betrayal, and death. A regular contributor to Dave Egger’s The Believer and McSweeney’s, Sampsell has written "the kind of book where you want to thank the author for helping you feel less alone with being alive" (Jonathan Ames, author of Wake Up, Sir! and The Double Life Is Twice as Good).
Would you try another book from Kevin Sampsell and/or Craig Jessen?
A Common Pornography wasn't bad, but felt like an outline for a memoir, rather than a fully-realized narrative. The question of "whose lives are worth examining" comes to mind - there wasn't enough detail - about the abusive father and the like - to warrant a book. An essay, maybe, but not enough weight for a book. This was basically some snapshots of a relatively average American - felt hungry again an hour after reading.
What else would you have wanted to know about Kevin Sampsell’s life?
More honesty and depth of personal reflection - fairly surface and unremarkable observations.
Sampsell's memoir, A Common Pornography, is sad, funny and intimate. He hides nothing.
Told in one and two page essays strung together like beads, A Common Pornography came about after the death of Sampsell’s resentful, overbearing father. It was Sampsell’s way of mourning.
From his childhood in Washington state, through a teenage porn obsession, a girlfriend’s abortion, revelations of a sordid family past that includes shock treatment and incest, Sampsell keeps you present. He makes his experiences meaningful, personal, and humorous in the best way possible by keeping his head and finding the ridiculousness in the horror.
Narrator Craig Jessen, is a playwright who brings his considerable theater skills to Sampsell's Shakespeare in Eastern Washington.
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