Former TV-show creator and producer Barris (Who Killed Art Deco?, 2009, etc.) offers “snapshots” of his daughter’s doomed life.
Della Barris died at the age of 36, undone by alcoholism and drug addiction. She had been indulging, as far as the author knows, since she was 11. It may have been a genetic problem, but Barris is the first to admit that he could have done a lot more to nurture his daughter. The author is unforgiving in his depiction of his and Della’s mother’s parenting—they were immature, self-involved and negligent, he writes. He believes their divorce shattered something in the young Della, and it certainly marks the beginning of his failure as a father. Della was bounced around from school to school, continent to continent, until she landed with her father, at his suggestion. He calls her mean, deceitful and duplicitous, and a “vicious” blackmailer when it came to his girlfriends. “I found the responsibility of caring for my daughter loathsome,” he writes, and one attention-calling episode after another finds him whining, “I didn’t know what to do about it.” Nor did he seek much advice, least of all from Della. The author abandoned her at age 16 to a trust account. After years of ill will, there was a rapprochement, but by then Della was a full-blown, HIV-positive addict, stealing from friends and prostituting herself.
Straight from the confessional—one hopes the writing was cathartic, because it’s awfully painful reading.