EW 1000: Books

25 New Classic Memoir Shockers

Self-revelations, factual or otherwise, that made us gasp since 1983, from Kathryn Harrison to James Frey to Wilt Chamberlain

· In 1997's The Kiss, Kathryn Harrison chronicles her four-year affair with her father — whom she didn't know until she was 20.

· In 2005's The Glass Castle, Jeannette Walls recounts seeing her eccentric artist mother Dumpster-diving in Manhattan.

· Wilt Chamberlain defies mathematics in 1991's A View From Above, claiming he bedded 20,000 women.

· James Frey describes how he underwent a root canal — without anesthesia — in 2003's A Million Little Pieces. If you actually believe him, that is.

· Drew Barrymore comes clean about alcohol and drug abuse as a preteen in 1990's Little Girl Lost.

· Augusten Burroughs claims he played with an electroshock machine while living with his mother's psychiatrist in 2002's Running With Scissors.

· Barbara Walters shocks readers in her 2008 memoir, Audition, by admitting to a 1970s affair with a married senator.

· Former Secretary of State Madeline Albright writes of her discovery of her Jewish heritage in 2003's Madam Secretary.

· Frank McCourt writes in 1996's Angela's Ashes that for years, he and his family survived on solely bread and tea while growing up poor in 1930s Ireland.

· In Breathing Out, Peggy Lipton admits that she once loved Elvis Presley tender and also had a tryst with Paul McCartney.

· Toni Bentley chronicles her obsession and addiction to — ahem — sodomy in 2004's The Surrender.

· Rosie O'Donnell's 2007 hot mess of a memoir, Celebrity Detox, manages to highlight one heart wrenching confession in between all the trash talk: As a child, O'Donnell claimes she used to abuse herself with a baseball bat.

· Marya Hornbacher chronicles her bouts with anorexia and bulimia in 1997's Wasted. Her disease was so severe, she withered down to a deadly 52 pounds.

· Sharon Osbourne details her brush with domestic non-bliss in the 1980s in 2006's Extreme — her drug-addicted husband, Ozzy Osbourne, once tried to strangle her.

· In Robert Goolrick's The End of the World as We Know It (2007), the author claims he was raped by his own father as a 4-year-old.

· In 2004's Confessions of an Economic Hit Man, John Perkins claims that in his former job as chief economist for Boston-based consulting firm Chas. T. Main, he was able to seal moneymaking deals with foreign leaders by using economic threats.

· In 2004's Climbing Higher, talk show host Montel Williams admits he contemplated suicide while suffering from multiple sclerosis.

· Okay, so it's not entirely shocking. Nor is it exactly a confession. But it is surprising that 2007's If I Did It — a ''fictional tell-all'' in which O.J. Simpson kind of/sort of/not really admits to murdering ex-wife Nicole and Ron Goldman — even exists.

· One-time teen heartthrob Willie Aames writes in 2007's Grace is Enough that he was sexually molested as a child and even attempted to hang himself.

· In 2005's Playground, Jennifer Saginor writes about growing up in the Playboy mansion and, at age 6, walking in on John Belushi having sex with a Playmate.

· Tatum O'Neal claims her father, actor Ryan O'Neal, abused her as a child in 2004's A Paper Life.

· In 1997's Naked, David Sedaris details his obsessive-compulsive behavior and Tourette's-like inclinations as a child — he writes he even licked doorknobs regularly.

·In 2003's Sickened, Julie Gregory reveals that her mother — who suffered from Munchausen by proxy syndrome — gave her drugs and withheld food from her in order to get attention.

· American Idol winner Fantasia Barrino admits in 2005's Life is Not a Fairy Tale that she was functionally illiterate.

· We're cheating a bit with this one, but it’s too good to pass up: In Confessions of a Dangerous Mind, Chuck Barris recounts his supposed double life as the host of The Gong Show and as a CIA assassin. The book was originally published (in obscurity) in 1982, but garnered more attention with a 2002 reissue.

Originally posted Jun 18, 2008 Published in issue #999-1000 Jun 27, 2008 Order article reprints
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