I finally got a few chapters of the book up on Authonomy.com. I also wrote the “pitch” and about me, just for this site. You can read without registering, but registration is free, and once registered you can leave a comment, back the book and add it to your watch list. The site is from HarperCollins, and I hope you back the book and rate it enthusiastically enough to interest them in foreign distribution. So any feedback you have is welcome, here and there.
Amazon.com has the book up, but the “see inside” feature isn’t available yet. I have tried to find comfort in the assurance I have received that it can’t be rushed and will be available in due time. Don’t forget to leave a review and like the book there.
Also on Amazon.com I have started an author page. Just click on my name when you are on the books Amazon.com page.
In Don’t Make Me Cry I tried to describe the odd thoughts and emotions that went along with my compulsion to keep going back to Carol. Dr. Ellen Lacter has recently written an article about this entitled, “Ritual Abuse and Torture-Based Mind Control: Reducing Re-contact with Abusers.” While my experience is not exactly like any she wrote about, her article is a scholarly warning to those trying to help in a situation where the individual is compelled to re-contact.
It is the first article I have read of its kind. The problem of re-contact (going back to your abuser) in such situations is a problem I have not seen even mentioned anywhere else. And yet, obviously, you have to stay away in order to make good any escape.
I only recently started searching the internet for other stories and opinions about mind control. Prior to this, I was working on the book and didn’t want to “contaminate” my story with others’ ideas. Just last week I was lucky enough to find Dr. Ellen Lacter’s relevant article.
While I was writing Don’t Make Me Cry, I tried to show a connection between what was said and done while I was in shock or confused, and the effect those words and deeds had on my thinking and actions later. It didn’t occur to me that it would be new or strange to anyone that actions and words might act like hypnotic suggestions.
What influence do you think words and actions can have on an individual, even if they are not remembered or only vaguely remembered?
It was a torturous form of mind control like you might expect to read about in a horror story or a science-fiction novella from the 1950’s. Rather than fiction, however, it took place in the real world and in an average, middle-class suburb of San Francisco. I survived it. But not unscathed; indeed, it took thirty years for me to come to grips with what happened to me.
Taken separately, the events that occurred defy belief. Looked at in sequence and as a whole, they yet remain senseless and brutal. And since I will never fully understand the motives of the people involved, I will never to my satisfaction be able to explain their ritualistic barbarism. My attempt was to simply tell the story the way I found it as I came to know the many, varied pieces. By so doing, I hoped to shed light on possible motives without interjecting my own rationale. However that may be, the result of my narration was a horror story or – as described by cultural critic Philip Kobylarz – a psychological thriller, a murder mystery without an actual corpse, and a love story gone really, really bad.
And yet, it is simply a memoir, a story about certain horrific events in my life – events I have reason to believe were ritualistically duplicated in cases other than my own. But even worse, I have no real reason to believe such events have necessarily ceased.
Some things cannot be unremembered. Such is the case with Tom Daly’s memoir of love gone really, really bad. Readers will doubt if the events that take place could actually be true and this is the epistemological crux of the endeavor. One begins to think that the Marquis de Sadian undercurrent serves as a metaphor for a cryptic something else: unbridled obsession, ecstatic passion, the Romantic Ideal, but at book’s end we fear it is not and take the account for its word.
And the words are shocking to mildly put it. What unveils through the course of the narrative is a Manson-esque torture scenario that is artfully explicated. We never clearly understand why the antagonist, Carol, does what she does. All we do know is what she inflicts on the author without ever completely getting at her raison d’etre.
This fact is a bit unnerving. She, as a character, remains an enigma. A femme fatale for sure, she warps the mind and emotions of our very reliable narrator to the point to which we palpably feel his pain and, like the victim, are not sure exactly what to do with such suffering.
The setting is 1970s [San Francisco] East Bay – specifically the ’burb of Concord, and the milieu is one of a sort of post summer-of-love youth culture who are trying to define meaning in the open-book phase of American history. What results is their struggles somewhere between romance and angst and California’s interpretation of bohemianism turns out to be an exercise in no-holds-barred cruelty. And there is no attempt to follow Shakespeare’s dictate that includes an element of kindness.
As far as the form itself is concerned, the memoir reads more like a novel. There is little reflection in a philosophical memoirist sense that attempts some learned perspective concerning the twisted love story. Readers will be either perturbed by this or will welcome the dry, matter-of-fact reportage of a remembrance of what even might be termed mental rights violations. The story unfolds with great honesty and Daly’s voice is remarkably one that is not tinged in bitterness or retribution. That just might be the unspoken lesson learned.
Part psychological thriller as the dust jacket indicates, part murder mystery without a literal murder, Don’t Make Me Cry is a tale that proves for an eternity that the weirdness of our society often apexes in the sunny little corners of suburbia. In fact, the book has a distinct Blue Velvet feel to it – like Lynch’s film, the monstrosity in Daly’s book arises subtly and cloaked in the outer guise of normality.
This book is an unsettling, nightmarish, yet concurrently calm and lucid account of what perhaps is the scariest of all terrors: the trust we have in a loved one violated and morphed into utter madness with the insanity distilled in both the victim and the perpetrator’s mind as some form of diabolical love.
Philip Kobylarz is a Freelance Writer and Cultural Critic in the San Fransisco Bay Area. His work has appeared in Paris Review, The Iowa Review, and Best American Poetry. His first book, Rues, from Blue Light Press of San Francisco is now available on Amazon.
By the Editor
I never imagined that editing this book, Don’t Make Me Cry, would turn out to be one of the most interesting and fulfilling adventures I’ve had. I would even be tempted to add that it was great fun, working with the author on it – if it didn’t sound so callous, given the subject matter: a horrifying, true story.
But it was amazing how philosophical his own attitude was, and even scrutinizing together some of the more graphic portions of the manuscript, there was rarely any sign of the toll those terrible events had to have taken on him.
My part in the book started a couple of years ago when my sister’s long-time boyfriend, Tom Daly, told me he was writing a book and asked me if I would edit it. He didn’t have the wherewithal to hire a professional editor, so he was doing what a lot of new writers probably do – ask a literate friend.
My sister had already given me the gist of what had happened to him, earlier in life, and told me this was what he was writing about in his memoir. Then Tom, in his unassuming way, told me himself – sort of “forewarning” me; he wanted to be sure I knew ahead of time what to expect. That was just before he brought me the first section of the manuscript, a year or so after he originally asked if I would edit it. He had actually been working on it for a few years already, in his spare time, and already had most of the remainder in rough form, which he continued finalizing in-between our sessions of editing together whatever he had ready.
I somehow knew from the start that I would enjoy this editing task, in spite of the dire subject matter, and I knew that it was important for Tom, personally. But I had not really expected to find that he had such an appealing writing style. It was simple and direct, occasionally playful (though mostly serious, as the subject would require) – and yet it connected. When I complimented him on it he said he had striven to make the actual telling of the story interesting because he wanted it to be read – for reasons that went beyond just selling books, I would come to learn.
But the thing I really didn’t expect was how I got so engrossed and pulled into the story itself. Having a general idea of what it was about, as I did at the beginning, wasn’t the same as reading the blow-by-blow account. It was pretty astonishing. And my immediate reaction was to wonder if people would even find it believable. Then I got a few people, my two sons and a couple of friends, to read some of it and give me their feedback. They all had similar reactions to mine, but all for different reasons, interestingly enough. And then I thought – of course!
First of all, it shouldn’t be surprising that something that shocking would get an initial reaction of disbelief or denial or something along those lines. But the other thing I noted was – we all wanted to read more, to see what happened next, and to find out what else happened. So although we found it hard to believe, it was as if we basically knew that even some very astounding assertions can sometimes be true – and that we should just read on. Besides, it was hard to put the thing down!
And then I realized something else from the feedback. Each person had their individual “take” on the overall story as well as on the different facets of it, and these takes were widely varying. Actually, it got them all talking, and they had quite a bit to say – always from their own particular point of view, and their own individual experiences and reality.
Likewise, I can only imagine the variety of possible commentary from experts in a wide spectrum of fields of the mind, or experts in interpersonal or group dynamics, or what have you. Each would have a specialized expertise with which to evaluate and draw their conclusions, some in agreement with those of others, some contradictory – maybe even diametrically opposed.
But as for the variety of reactions of the everyday reader, a simple example might be how I, myself, was able to relate to the memory problems Tom had experienced, which in fact is where the story begins and is a critical part of it. I was having my own memory lapses, caused by certain health issues and the side effects of medication – circumstances far less traumatic than Tom’s. But even so, I personally knew that this particular affliction could be extremely exasperating, which made that aspect of his experience very real to me. And, as I’ve said, the responses from the other readers were just as unique to them.
I have to admit, too, that my grasp of this very point was something Tom had been trying to get across to me all along. I would try to get him to write explanations, or possible explanations, about his own and others’ words and actions, the motivations they had and that sort of thing – to make the story easier to understand so that it wouldn’t all be so incredible. But he held his ground with me: he only wanted to write what he had actually seen for himself, or heard or experienced – and let the dialogue begin. Let it fall where it may.
So because of his persistent stand, along with the comments from these other “sample readers,” I finally understood why he didn’t want to speculate about any of it, or tell the reader what to think by inserting his own personal interpretations or opinions or guesses. I remember the last time I offered one of my increasingly milder suggestions of this kind; he sincerely considered it for a few moments and then said, “I just don’t want to do that to the reader.”
He wanted to allow readers, experts or not, to participate and add to the understanding, and have their own. But above all, he simply wanted the bare facts of what happened to be known, to be exposed to the public eye.
There are many questions that one might ask, reading along, and many of them I did ask, just between Tom and me. He would sometimes offer his own notions, but other times I got the simple answer of “I don’t know.” In other words, he only knows for sure what he himself saw and heard, or maybe overheard, and what he felt – and, in fact, has questions of his own. With any luck, and the publication of this book, some answers may yet be revealed.
But getting back to the adventure of working with Tom on the task of smoothing out the rough spots of the manuscript, we would be amused by different things and one of them had to do with my memory lapses. I would lose my train of thought fairly often and we just had to laugh about how ironic it was for him to have an editor who, herself, mirrored a major aspect of the story. And just as funny was the fact that he had entrusted the editing of his book to this person!
Amazingly, we also had some good laughs joking about some of the dire things he had written about – things said and done that were so outrageous you had to find humor in them, even though they weren’t really anything to laugh about. At the same time, there were also some poignant, heart-rending moments in his narration, that literally left me with a loss for words. And overall, I found it to be a story not only of almost incomprehensible, cold-blooded inhumanity – but a story that truly validated the human spirit as well.
Some of you, like Tom and me, will hope that, with light being shed on this very, very dark corner of what was a typical suburban neighborhood in Concord, California, there are others who may know something about such happenings and that they will come out of the woodwork and speak up. If actual witnesses to these atrocities learn about the book, they may step forward too. And if any such things are still going on (incredibly) it could start the ball rolling toward their being exposed and stopped.
But one last note about the adventure of working with Tom on his memoir. He hadn’t previously done that much writing of any kind, much less attempted a book, and obviously had never collaborated with an editor – one who, herself, was totally new at it, to boot. And even though his whole heart and intent was poured into those first drafts (and they were already compellingly written) the editing – co-editing, really – to achieve the final product was mostly a matter of learning how to do what we were doing, as we did it. And I like to think that we made up for our lack of experience and knowhow (and my memory lapses!) with a lot of time, repetition, and old-fashioned hard work.
As we plugged along through many a long afternoon to make it the best we could, I think my heart was in it just about as much as his. Almost from the beginning, I had taken on his cause as my own. I too wanted his story to be heard.
And I hope it turns out to be a true-life Cinderella tale, where possibly more people than we now know will end up happy – or at least happier – ever after.