Read for: The F-Word’s March Fiction Selection
I have been on a mean reading streak this week, trying desperately to catch up on all the book club selections I’m drowning in. Chocolates for Breakfast was selected by members of the F-Word as our fiction book for March, otherwise I never would have picked it up. I’ve never even heard of Pamela Moore before, which is a travesty because she was brilliant! This book was published in 1958 by a then-18 year old Moore. The book has been compared by many to Sylvia Plath’s Bell Jar, which is pretty accurate (and I would consider also to be very flattering). I loved Bell Jar and I loved Chocolates for Breakfast too. It’s a coming of age story of 15 year old Courtney, raised between Hollywood and New York in the 1950s. What impressed me the most about this book was the maturity and insight Moore had into life at such a young age, as well as her ability to write a captivating story about rebellious teen girl socialites have SEX and DRINKING in the 1950s! Wiggedy-what?? Moore delves into the often painful but necessary process of youth growing up and separating themselves from their parents. She frankly discusses sexual awakening, depression, promiscuity, alcoholism, friendship and loyalty, homosexuality, feminism and double standards, and even death.
Courtney is sassy and intelligent, and says things like this: “Oh, Al, shut up! Stop criticizing me! First I’m criticized for being a prude and sounding like a social worker or something, then I’m criticized for looking like a cheap broad. How am I supposed to live? Under the water or something, coming up only to say ‘I beg your pardon if I disturb you by coming up for air. I’ll do my best to remain submerged.'” What a smart cookie. I had a very similar experience reading this as I did with Bell Jar, because as a reader I can’t help but project my knowledge of the author’s life onto the characters in the book. Pamela Moore committed suicide at the age of 26 with her infant in the house, which is very similar to Plath’s demise. In a strange, strange way that makes me like her even more. While her works following CFB (4 or 5 novels) didn’t make nearly as big a splash as this first one, I’d be very curious to explore her journey as a writer in the years leading up to her death. I’ve posted the cover of one of the earlier prints of the book because I think it is super amazing, but I read the recently re-released copy; her son Kevin gifted a copy of this book to a woman named Emma Straub (a writer) who gave it to her agent and started it onto the road of being re-published. The new publication includes a lot of extras at the back as well as an introduction by Straub and additional writing by Kevin about his mother. Definitely pick this up if you are in the Plath-lovers camp, Moore deserves to be known by a wider audience for sure.