Sunday, March 15, 2015

Allen Kurzweil

Allen Kurzweil is the author of Whipping Boy: The Forty-Year Search for My Twelve-Year-Old Bully.

From his Q & A with Sara Scribner at Salon:

Many of us have had bullies. Clearly one of the things that really helped you in writing this book is that other people who had had bullies were cheering you on and they were willing to go out of their way to help you find this guy.

That was one of the amazing and unexpected dividends of this research. I’ve never before pursued a subject where people were not only so willing, but eager to assist me in my research, not because of any journalistic confidence, but because they had an allegiance to me by virtue of the motivating force behind the search. Almost without exception every one of my informants had had a Cesar of one kind or another in his or her past.

Those experiences, a lot of people kind of bury them. How much of this was really a part of your adult life? How much did you really think about it? Was it kind of hidden back there and you had to open the box on it?

Both. I had rendered Cesar into harmless anecdote. He was just a story to tell at a barbecue or a dinner party, almost for comic relief. But I think that that was a defense mechanism for the deeper trauma and I think what has surprised me, subsequent to the publication of “Whipping Boy,” is how there’s this entire contingent of people who have suffered childhood abuse who sublimate or who sweep it under the rug, and then suddenly find themselves resurrecting those childhood memories while reading “Whipping Boy” and then getting in touch with me. I’m in my mid-50s and folks in their 30s, 40s, 50s, 60s, I mean I’ve gotten letters from grandmothers in their 70s, who grew up assuming it was not OK to carry that childhood suffering into adulthood. So they did try and forget it, overlook it. But I have to say the minute the subject comes up, out come the names of childhood persecutors, out come the stories of this and that. I did a reading last week here in Providence, and yet again someone had to raise his hand, and basically it became a session where everyone named his or her bully. This guy stood up and said, “When I was growing up, Ted Danson tied me to a radiator with a rope and told me I better figure out how to get out of it before the heat started...[read on]
--Marshal Zeringue