TN Read-Along #17: And I Don't Want To Live This Life Discussion Thread
Alas, I can't do a live chat after all; so sorry! Deadlines have intruded, as they tend to do.
I did finish And I Don't Want To Live This Life, though, and I really felt for Deborah Spungen. At times, I thought that she might have tried a different disciplinary track — send the other two kids away for a week and just spend the time absolutely ignoring any of Nancy's destructive actions until she learned that it's positive attention or nothing — but when she says on page 54, "Was it really worth enduring a major tantrum just because she wanted to watch a different show on TV than Suzy did? It wasn't — believe me it wasn't, not day in and day out," I totally got it. Sometimes you just want everyone to STFU. And who knows if a different discipline style would have worked anyway. It seems clear that something went seriously wrong inside Nancy's skull at some point, and behavioral techniques won't really touch that.
Overall, I enjoyed the book as an experience; Spungen effectively wears down the reader on the subject of Nancy, makes you really feel the exhaustion and hopelessness that comes with having to manage a child like her — at a time when even those experts who understood what might be wrong had no resources to offer you. Her description of her affair is also good, properly flat; she doesn't apologize for needing to step out of her life every now and then. The book holds up despite still taking it as gospel that Sid Vicious killed Nancy, which I believe is no longer the received wisdom here.
But Spungen herself can be a bit difficult to relate to at times. At the end of the book, when she writes so sadly about the distance between her and Suzy, I had to roll my eyes. What did she expect? Nancy's siblings probably have PTSD, never mind resenting you and Frank for devoting 85% of your attention to Nancy, much as they may have understood intellectually that you had little choice. Suzy probably would have put you at arm's length sooner if she weren't so busy constantly cleaning up after the latest tornado. And some of the "my baby, my baby" upon Nancy's death left me cold as well, not because I can't relate to losing a child — obviously I can't — but because the good qualities of Nancy's that Spungen repeats more frequently at the end, almost like a mantra, we haven't really seen. She admits at some point that she's mourning the daughter who never was, so from a humanity standpoint, I sympathized, but from a reading standpoint, especially at that point in the narrative, I was merely exhausted.
What did you guys think? Were you annoyed at Spungen, or at Nancy, or both? Did you gasp that an apartment could be had in Chelsea for $200 a month? Did the prim references to "rock concerts" give you a snicker? Did you notice that she referred to Johnny Rotten as "Johnny Lyman"? Discuss!
Tags: books Deborah Spungen Johnny Rotten Nancy Spungen random sibling cruelty Sid Vicious The TN Read-Along