Book: The Secret Life of the Lonely Doll: The Search for Dare Wright
Author: Jean Nathan
Type of Book: Non-fiction, biography
Why Do I Consider This Book Odd: The Wright Family was odd. Dare Wright’s upbringing is a perfect distillation of what would happen if you crossed Grey Gardens with Martha Stewart’s micro-managed zest for living with the entirety of the old “cluster B” section of the DSM.
Availability: Published in 2004 by Picador, you can get a copy here:
Comments: This didn’t turn out to be as creepy an analysis as I had hoped. I may have misjudged the overall creepiness because I’m not really scared of dolls. I never understood the people who were and still are scared of the Chucky franchise. It was too campy and an active fire and competent voodoo priestess could have wrecked that doll’s shit right quick. The Annabelle franchise is a bit more frightening, I guess, but I also feel that if a possessed doll could be safely secured in a glass case in the home of two elderly fraudsters (no real shade, I love Ed and Lorraine Warren) who kept chickens in the house, maybe all you have to do if confronted by an evil doll is send it to whomever is in charge of the Warren estate and ask that it be put behind glass too. Or maybe encase the doll in concrete and send it to the Vatican or drop it into the Mariana Trench? But really who cares because if I’m not scared by dolls, I won’t get it and people who aren’t scared by people wearing masks will not understand my utter revulsion at Slipknot or the original Shatner Michael Myers configuration. Horror is relative.
But creepy or not I am going to continue because maybe the creepiness is the books we read along the way. This is the second part of my look at The Lonely Doll and Dare Wright. You may want to have a look at the first part because in that entry I discuss the book itself and my speculations behind what was at work in the book and what may have happened to Dare Wright to cause her to create such a needy, emotionally shattered character in what was meant, one supposes, to be a pretty little children’s book. I wondered why Dare included the spanking scene and what the reader was supposed to take away from the message behind such a spanking. I had some conclusions, given my tendency toward armchair psychoanalysis. Among them:
–The Lonely Doll was terrified of abandonment by a male father figure, and that she would submit to any sort of punishment if it meant that the father figure, Mr. Bear, would stay.
–I wondered if Mr. Bear and Little Bear’s sudden arrival signified a stepfather and step-sibling, forcing Edith into submitting to a male figure who was essentially sprung on her, while negotiating a relationship with another child, whose own rebellion against a father figure could create all sorts of problems.
–Because of these two possibilities, I pegged Dare Wright as having been a little girl whose own parents were divorced and who missed her father. I thought perhaps she had a stepfather whose assertion of his authority over her was at times draconian but she still wanted to please him because he represented stability and because her new step-sibling brought her companionship she missed out on when her mother was single.
I was kind of right but I was also very wrong.