The only problem with writing an anonymous book about incest and, in this case, the author’s abuse and multiple rapes by her father over nearly twenty years, is that a question mark will forever hang over the book. Did she? Did he? The authors validity is conveyed only by her words and not by her deeds or the verdict of a court and as such the reader has to judge whether what they are reading is true, in which case The Incest Diary is a deeply disturbing description of child abuse. If not, then this book is an appalling attempt to eroticise and exploit child abuse for financial gain and having just finished reading this book I have no idea which verdict is correct?
What makes The Incest Diary truly disturbing is not just the subject matter, but its brutal eroticism and the authors honest depictions of the sex she suffered, endured and, unsettlingly, often enjoyed at the hands of her father. However, if this is fiction, then those descriptions become perilously close to pornography.
From the opening pages onwards the author relates to her father in graphic terms. That she “wanted and didn’t want him to come in and fuck me” and that when her father wanted her; “I felt his eyes on my shoulders and neck, on my legs, my breasts, and my hips” and that she held her body differently when she knew he was looking.
It is this mix of desire and revulsion that lies at the heart of the book and the anonymous authors cathartic journey, which for some reviewers have made the book a disquieting mix of almost pedophiliac porn and, in that the abused victim admits to often enjoying and desiring the abuse, an abusers validation of underage sex. For others this is a searingly heartfelt and brutally honest description of being sexually abused from the age of three to twenty one by ones own father and as such who are we to judge how the victim describes it?
Stripped bare of any excess, this is a short and succinct memoir, yet it is also profoundly shocking one as well. For example; describing being tied naked to a chair and left in a cupboard she relates “my father tied me up in the closet and face-fucked me until he came in my mouth and I vomited up the semen”. Or, perhaps more shockingly still, “I liked the feel of his flesh rubbing my flesh. Putting his cock into me was pure pain until my body was big enough, which wasn’t until I was a teenager, I remember being afraid it would hurt the way it has before - like being torn, split in two, blood everywhere, but suddenly it didn’t. My body was finally big enough; I was wet, too.”
The daughter is to her mother the other woman, and to the daughter her mother is the other woman. Each taking their man away from the other while destroying each other in the process. When the author finally spoke out about her abuse and rape her father denied everything, her family and friends sided with him while denying her. In the end she recanted to save her family and, at twenty one, slept for her father for the last time.
She ends by describing her relationships with men now; her ex husband, quiet, calm, loving and gentle but not particularly sexual, who after twelve years she divorces. And her lovers, including one who uses a picture of the nine-year old author as a bookmark - “He tells me that he imagines me as a little girl when he has sex with me …. that he masturbates to that photo”…
If this book is fiction then it is shameful because it exploits all the real victims of abuse in order to sell, and if it real then it is an horrific reminder of just how awful human sexual desire can be without morality or restraint.
The Incest Diary
£12.99 - Hardcover edition
Bloomsbury Publishing 2107
© Nigel Wingrove 2017