Narrating the Transgressive Self

Since Augustine penned his Confessions, authors of memoirs describing their transgressive behavior have teetered on a balance beam between telling an interesting, exciting, naughty story, and exculpating their character for their participation in it, through the use of deviance neutralizing devices; here sociologist Erich Goode explains how this balancing act is accomplished.

Memoirs of Transgressive Behavior

Virtually all memoirists who write about their own transgressive behavior couches their narration in deviance neutralization devices and vocabularies of motive. A few excellent and instructive examples, in addition to the ones discussed here, include:

  • Note Found in a Bottle, Susan Cheever. (Alcoholism)
  • Loose Girl, Kerry Cohen. (Sexual Promiscuity)
  • The Wolf of Wall Street, Jordan Belfort. (stock market swindling)
  • Broken, William Cope Moyers. (Substance Abuse and Addiction)
  • Breaking Ranks and Ex-Friends, Norman Podhoretz. (Political Apostasy)
  • How I Learned to Snap, Kirk Read (Effeminacy and Homosexuality).
  • Flying Close to the Sun, Cathy Wilkerson
  • The Autobiography of Malcolm X, Malcolm X