I Am Not Ashamed
by: Barbara Payton
216-page paperback / 9781943679027 / Spurl Editions
I Am Not Ashamed, first published in 1963, is the absurdist tale of a forgotten movie star's unnerving decline.
When sleazy journalist Leo Guild arrived at Barbara Payton's flophouse Hollywood apartment, he was surprised to find that the thirty-five-year-old former actress was working as a prostitute to support her alcohol addiction. He brought her cases of cheap wine, turned on the tape recorder, and she began to speak . . .
Surreal and often depressing, I AM NOT ASHAMED is an anti-memoir: as Payton reveals intimate moments of her life, she slides down and down the wormhole of her memories and watches her life in numb horror. Unable to recover or make any changes, Payton remains locked in admiration of her brief Hollywood fame.
A self-proclaimed "con girl in specialized areas of living," Payton is pathologically self-destructive. Her favorite topic is men—how she used men to get ahead, and how they used her. In its bizarre frankness, I AM NOT ASHAMED follows in the autobiographical tradition of Jack Black's You Can't Win and Liz Renay's My Face for the World to See, and the literary tradition of Fyodor Dostoyevsky's Notes from Underground and William S. Burroughs' Junkie.
"But here's the thing, Payton's drunken ramblings and recollections (who knows how much are true or truer than you could ever imagine?) melding with Guild's jazzed-up pulp speak becomes something of a minor masterpiece (though minor is not exactly the right word here...). A dime store (in the best sense of the term) Notes From Underground—the bellowing of the underground woman, telling us there is something wrong with her looks (and most certainly her liver), filled with regret, self doubt, black humor, pride and touching reassurance that it might work out one day knowing damn well it won't."—Kim Morgan, Sunset Gun
"I AM NOT ASHAMED is more than just tawdry memoir. It is a book that also possesses an unforeseeable transcendence within."—Heather Drain