If some endure, many are better left unwritten

November 08, 1993|By Rob Hiaasen

Private words have the habit of taking on very public lives.

Here are some diaries that have endured, entertained or backfired:

* Anne Frank: The Diary of a Young Girl: Dubbed "the voice of six million vanished souls," Anne Frank's diary is a testimonial to suffering in the Holocaust. The Dutch girl hid in an annex with her family for two years. Anne Frank was caught by the Nazis, and she died in a concentration camp.

Her diary entry for July 15, 1944: In spite of everything I still believe that people are really good at heart.

* Hitler's and Jack the Ripper's diaries: In 1983, the West German magazine Stern paid more than $3 million for Hitler's diaries. They were a fake. Which brings us to Jack the Ripper, who supposedly jotted down personal thoughts on his comings and goings and strangulations. Hyperion Press is publishing the diaries, while asserting the book is either "the diary of history's most famous murderer -- or merely an unforgettable reading experience."

* John Cheever's diaries: If Sen. Bob Packwood's case isn't scary enough, consider writer John Cheever's posthumous roasting. His journalized sexual hungers for the same sex wound up as a gag on "Seinfeld."

* Civil and Gulf War diaries: Documentary filmmaker Ken Burns showcased war diaries for his PBS masterpiece "The Civil War." Elisha Hunt Rhodes on the Battle of Gettysburg: More than 200 guns were belching forth their thunder . . . Oh the dead and dying on this bloody field.

From Saudi Arabia, journalist P. J. O'Rourke wrote: It's Valentine's Day, time for romance. And what could be more romantic than sex toys? We've been trying to figure out what Saudi Arabian sex toys would be . . . edible veils? Inflatable plastic airline tickets to Europe?

* White House diaries: Richard Nixon installed recording devices in the White House to "record the President's business." Did it ever.

George Bush also kept a diary. His pre-election "out of the loop" excerpts revealed a man fearing his political future because of the Iran-Contra scandal -- which Oliver North wrote about in his diary, too.

* The diary of Doogie Howser, M.D.: TV child prodigy Doogie got his medical degree at the age of 11 or something. A modern-day John Boy Walton, Doogie ended each show by making computer diary entries, such as Kissed my first girl. Lost my first patient. Life will never be the same.

Maybe everyone needs to take a little break from writing.

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