A Common Pornography: A Memoir and over one million other books are available for Amazon Kindle. Learn more
Qty:1
  • List Price: $13.99
  • Save: $1.40 (10%)
FREE Shipping on orders over $35.
In Stock.
Ships from and sold by Amazon.com.
Gift-wrap available.
Add to Cart
Want it tomorrow, April 18? Order within and choose One-Day Shipping at checkout. Details
FREE Shipping on orders over $35.
Used: Very Good | Details
Condition: Used: Very Good
Comment: While this book has been loved by someone else, they left it in great condition. Hurry and buy it before someone else does and take advantage of our FREE Super Saver Shipping!!!
Add to Cart
Have one to sell?
Flip to back Flip to front
Listen Playing... Paused   You're listening to a sample of the Audible audio edition.
Learn more

A Common Pornography: A Memoir Paperback – January 19, 2010


See all 6 formats and editions Hide other formats and editions
Amazon Price New from Used from Collectible from
Kindle
"Please retry"
Paperback, January 19, 2010
$12.59
$3.28 $0.01 $45.00

Frequently Bought Together

A Common Pornography: A Memoir + This Is Between Us
Price for both: $25.17

Buy the selected items together
  • This Is Between Us $12.58

If you buy a new print edition of this book (or purchased one in the past), you can buy the Kindle edition for only $2.99 (Save 66%). Print edition purchase must be sold by Amazon. Learn more.


Big Spring Books
Editors' Picks in Spring Releases
Ready for some fresh reads? Browse our picks for Big Spring Books to please all kinds of readers.

Product Details

  • Paperback: 218 pages
  • Publisher: Harper Perennial; 1 edition (January 19, 2010)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0061766100
  • ISBN-13: 978-0061766107
  • Product Dimensions: 8 x 5.3 x 0.6 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 5.6 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.2 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (17 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,268,825 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

A memoir in collage form, this frank but fragmented narrative chronicles the author's early life in the Pacific Northwest. Told in a series of small pieces, some less than a quarter of a page long, Sampsell follows a stream-of-consciousness series of memories centering loosely around a collection of family secrets unearthed after his father's funeral. Replicating the effects of memory, Sampsell's chronicle begins piecemeal and becomes more detailed as it goes, emphasizing the unfiltered honesty of the story and his efforts to tell it. Though it can be frustrating waiting for the pieces to add up, there's enough bathos, dysfunctional family antics and coming-of-age adventures-naked photoshoots, psychiatric hospitalizations, late-night donut shops and the tri-city New Wave scene-to keep readers turning pages. Sampsell's eye for detail and deadpan delivery envliven a dark personal history with bathos and a powerful desire for understanding.
Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.

From Booklist

Many coming-of-age memoirs depict a journey through hellish abuse. Sampsell’s verbal snapshots capture the more peripheral scene of a kid along for the ride, under the watchful eye of a distant, resentful father—“a humorless, God-fearing bore.” For many who grew up in the 1970s and ’80s, the details of this American life will be familiar: the music, the sports teams, the Jaws-inspired aquaphobia, the release of the hostages from Iran, the mannerist rebellion of New Wave. Other aspects will resonate with males, from the naive cruelty of boys to elaborate strategies built around the acquisition and secretion of dirty magazines, to a candid account of obsession with girls and/or sex that recalls Jeffrey Brown’s tell-all graphic novels. McSweeney’s readers may recall some of these pieces reworked and fleshed out from an earlier chapbook, and while some newer passages (such as those about the abuse and institutionalization of Sampsell’s half-sister) feel arbitrarily chopped into vignettes, mostly the material perfectly fits the form, shards of memory fused into a compelling concretion of moments. A worthy addition to the work of such contemporary memoirists as Nick Flynn, Augusten Burroughs, Dave Eggers, and Stephen Elliott. --David Wright

More About the Author

Kevin Sampsell is the author of the memoir, A Common Pornography (2010 Harper Perennial), and the short story collections, Creamy Bullets (Chiasmus) and Beautiful Blemish (Word Riot) and the editor of the anthology, Portland Noir (Akashic). Sampsell is the publisher of the micropress, Future Tense Books, which he started in 1990. He has worked at Powell's Books as an events coordinator and the head of the small press section since 1998. His essays have appeared in Salon, The Faster Times, Jewcy, and The Good Men Project. His fiction has been published in McSweeney's, Nerve, Hobart, and in several anthologies. His novel, This is Between Us, will publish with Tin House Books in November. He lives in Portland, Oregon with his wife and son.

Customer Reviews

4.2 out of 5 stars
5 star
9
4 star
4
3 star
3
2 star
1
1 star
0
See all 17 customer reviews
It's all very poignant and resonant.
paola torrez
It was a very quick, interesting read, and Sampsell uses great details to illustrate his stories, but I am gravely disappointed in its darkness.
L. Pieroni
This has to be one of the oddest (and most interesting) memoirs I've ever read.
D. S. Atkinson

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

6 of 6 people found the following review helpful By paola torrez on June 23, 2002
Format: Paperback
Each page features a short little episode from the author's childhood. Some very funny stuff happens. Space shuttles, pop star dreams, dirty magazine hiding, first girlfriends with dirty teeth. It's all very poignant and resonant. A well-done work.
Comment Was this review helpful to you? Yes No Sending feedback...
Thank you for your feedback. If this review is inappropriate, please let us know.
Sorry, we failed to record your vote. Please try again
3 of 3 people found the following review helpful By Diane VINE VOICE on February 4, 2010
Format: Paperback
Despite the bad publicity of a few memoirs by people who were later determined to be less than truthful, the genre is still flourishing. I recently reviewed The Kids Are All Right, the story of the four Welch siblings, who were left orphaned after their father's death in a car accident and their mother's death by cancer a short time later.

The four siblings took turns writing about their memories in short, one and two page sections. It has been said that each child in a family grows up with different parents, and their story illustrates that point.

Kevin Sampsell's memoir "A Common Pornography" is written in a similar style. His one-and-two page mini-essays read like diary entries. Reading them is like sitting with Sampsell while he is looking at a family photo album, each page a picture triggering a memory. The pictures add up to a life lived in a family that is deeply troubled.

Sampsell has two older half-brothers who were pretty much out of the house by the time he could remember. His half-sister spent ten years in a psychiatric hospital, and while there gave birth to a child who was taken from her. She later married an abusive man who pimped her out for sex to other men. She again got pregnant and again gave up her baby. She was impregnated once more, this time by her stepfather, Kevin's father.

Two other brothers lived with Kevin, one of whom was black. Matt was the product of an affair that Kevin's mother had with an African man when she and Kevin's father had been estranged. Kevin describes a beautiful story Matt told him about going to Africa and meeting his father's relatives. He had several mannerisms of his father, and they were mesmerized by this young man who looked and acted so much like their deceased relative.
Read more ›
Comment Was this review helpful to you? Yes No Sending feedback...
Thank you for your feedback. If this review is inappropriate, please let us know.
Sorry, we failed to record your vote. Please try again
3 of 3 people found the following review helpful By Suzanne Burns on December 5, 2002
Format: Paperback
This is the first time I've read Sampsell's work beyond the McSweeney's website, and I found it enormously touching, provocative, sentimental (in a good, just heard Shake It Up on the radio sort of way), and inspiring. I've never enjoyed the memoir genre until I read this book. Pick it up. I guarantee it will haunt you.
Comment Was this review helpful to you? Yes No Sending feedback...
Thank you for your feedback. If this review is inappropriate, please let us know.
Sorry, we failed to record your vote. Please try again
2 of 2 people found the following review helpful By D. S. Atkinson on April 17, 2012
Format: Paperback
This has to be one of the oddest (and most interesting) memoirs I've ever read. Most memoirs I've seen seem to take some organizing viewpoint and filter everything through that, some pose that the author wants you to view their life through. Sampsell frames his work well through his experience of his father's death, but he is much more subtle about the connections between the vignettes. He seems to let the experiences speak for themselves, not acting like he's necessarily figured it all out and summarized it easily, though he stays well enough in control. He definitely has some off-beat choices about where things flow too, turns in concept and thought leaps, that can be hysterically funny at some points and starkly touching at others. It definitely isn't just another memoir.
Comment Was this review helpful to you? Yes No Sending feedback...
Thank you for your feedback. If this review is inappropriate, please let us know.
Sorry, we failed to record your vote. Please try again
1 of 1 people found the following review helpful By Talulla Glazer on June 8, 2013
Format: Paperback
I wasn't looking for a memoir to read while trolling the book store, but I'm glad I picked this up.

It felt like I spent an afternoon picking through a dusty box of old snapshots belonging to someone else. I felt like I had snooped in a diary and discovered some of the most intimate and dark thoughts of a total stranger.

I say snapshots because that is how the book is arranged. Little vignettes or pieces of memories compiled into chapters. Each snapshot a little piece of a whole. If you were to put each image on the wall and stood back to look at it, you could see a complete (as far as I know) Kevin Sampsell. I couldn't put the book down, I had to see the next photo and then the next before his image became clear.

This book is honest and heartbreaking. Those little snapshots are still haunting me days after, pondering my own past. Everyone has a story to tell, and I think this one is worth the read.
Comment Was this review helpful to you? Yes No Sending feedback...
Thank you for your feedback. If this review is inappropriate, please let us know.
Sorry, we failed to record your vote. Please try again
1 of 1 people found the following review helpful By C. O. Aptowicz on December 29, 2010
Format: Paperback
I try to review only books on Amazon which have no previous reviews, but I am breaking that rule with "A Common Pornography," because it was one of my favorite books of the year.

Kevin Sampsell is a familiar name in the indie publishing world, having been a performer and publisher for over two decades now, and "A Common Pornography" is a muscular book which embraces and subverts the tropes of both worlds.

Sampsell tells the history of himself and his family is short, self-contained chapters. Moving forward and backward in time, obsessing over than abandoning subjects, and being brutally, sometimes painfully honest, Sampsell invites us into his story the way a friend would: via anecdote and detail. The shortness of the chapters allow the reader bite-size views into Sampsell's life, and as the chapters build up, the reader is able to fully navigate the sometimes sharp turns in the narrative: funny teenage stories bumped up against stories of abuse, endearing moments bumped up against enraging ones, etc.... Like learning a language through immersion, the reader builds up his/her comfortability level and the effect is intoxicating. By the end of the book, you feel like Sampsell is an old friend and that his history is one you share.

I've given this book as a gift several times since it was released to various writer pals of mine. Because while you could exhaust a dictionary finding adjectives to describe it -- innovative, real, surreal, brutal, nostalgic, angry, funny, painful, honest -- I think the best one to describe it is a simple one: brave.
Comment Was this review helpful to you? Yes No Sending feedback...
Thank you for your feedback. If this review is inappropriate, please let us know.
Sorry, we failed to record your vote. Please try again

Product Images from Customers

Most Recent Customer Reviews

Search
ARRAY(0xa0a3a3cc)

What Other Items Do Customers Buy After Viewing This Item?