1970s drug addict diary Go ask Alice as fake as a broken bong

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People of a certain age can remember that their parents left around the 1971 drug « diary » Go ask Alice.

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That’s what can happen when you do drugs, mum and dad seemed to say.

But it never quite passed the smell test for savvy teenagers of the time. And they were right.

A new book claims the treatise on fear of young adults is fake like a dime bag full of oregano.

Go ask writer Alice Beatrice Sparks. A new book claims she was a charlatan. GETTY PICTURES
Go ask writer Alice Beatrice Sparks. A new book claims she was a charlatan. GETTY PICTURES

The book was presented as the « diary » of an anonymous teenager and her experiences in the doping culture of the time.

The 15-year-old protagonist quickly slides from a suburban teenager who starts with psychedelics (hey, what about the gateway drug, marijuana?) then heroin, hookup and finally death .

The terrifying tome won awards, scared parents, and spurred the War on Drugs. FYI: Alice is from Jefferson Airplane’s White Rabbit“Go ask Alice, I think she will know…”

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Now author Rick Emerson recounts the New York Post he was one of the traumatized teenagers. But he looked back and found the book to be nonsense.

Today he published a book called Unmasking Alice (BenBella Books) which tears down the whole narrative.

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Beatrice Sparks had been trying to break into the publishing world for years, writes Emerson. When TV personality Art Linklater’s daughter jumped to her death on October 4, 1969, allegedly by tripping on acid, Sparks was inspired.

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Ready to pounce was US President Richard Nixon, eager to turn on his war on drugs. The problem was that Linklater’s daughter’s toxicology results showed she was clean. No matter.

Sparks knew Linklater and told her about the « journal » and he introduced her to Prentice-Hall publishers.

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Go ask Alice quickly became a bestseller and inspired a made-for-TV adaptation starring William Shatner, Andy Griffith and Jamie Smith Jackson as Alice.

From the beginning there were problems with the « diary » of « Anonymous ». Sparks claimed there was one log, then two. There were audio cassettes. There were none. The writer’s credentials also seemed to change often.

The preacher, Andy Griffith, hugs Alice, Jamie Smith-Jackson.
The preacher, Andy Griffith, hugs Alice, Jamie Smith-Jackson.

The inspiration for Alice was a delusional teenager named Brenda, whom Sparks allegedly advised as a therapist. Emerson found no record of Sparks’ academic qualifications.

But the real Brenda told the stories of sex and drugs that Sparks craved. Emerson then tracked down Brenda. Yes, she overcame her addiction, graduated from college and now works with at-risk communities.

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She never wrote a diary.

Yet, because the publisher thought the « journal » would be more powerful if the author was « Anonymous », Sparks made a lot of money but got no credit.

« After 30 years of trying, Beatrice Sparks had changed the world. And no one knew it, » Emerson writes. « Beatrice had been wiped out of her breakthrough. »

Sparks died in 2012 at the age of 95.



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