It surprises me sometimes how few real stories there are out there about the middle- and lower-middle-class suburbs and the drug-addled lives the kids live. I know firsthand, back in the day. To be sure, there are some nice accounts, most famously Donna Gaines's Teenage Wasteland, and River's Edge, and also a true-crime book about a murder in the suburb next to mine, The Boy Next Door. (And I have not seen Elephant, though there were hints in Private Idaho.) (Jim Goldberg's Raised By Wolves should be mentioned, but that's much more inner-city; Larry Clark's Teenage Lust gets a shout-out too.) Today's Times brought a short addition to the canon, Charlie LeDuff's story on a Las Vegas family. He lays it on a little thick, but that's why we like him.
"...Daddy walked in from work one day into his perfect home with the high ceilings, green lawn and pool out back, and saw a stranger, a world-weary sloucher with black hair and nails and a bull ring through her nose....
How can you be good, she asks, when everybody around you is bad? She tried, the horses and the teen council, being the perfect daughter of two judges. But she couldn't do it forever, fending off the bad kids and their parties and grown-up stories about three-way sex. Then a friend, a 14-year-old boy, killed himself. After that she joined the crowd, pulled in like a ball in the ocean. The horse was eventually sold.
She is a thin girl, waifish with long, angular face, a tongue stud and nose ring. She is frenetic, unable to focus on a topic for more than a few sentences, calm one minute, ripping through a string of invective in the next. At 17, she has a poor self-image. She describes herself as ugly, small-chested and big-hipped. "I'm not good looking. I'm not an adult. I'm not anything. I'm spoiled," she says and laughs at the absurdity of herself."Posted by dbrown at June 01, 2004 10:56 PM