First published 13 years ago, Phoebe Gloeckner’s acclaimed Diary of a Teenage Girl, a dark story of sex and drugs in the life of a 1970s teenage girl, is getting a new, revised edition in anticipation of the August release of a new independent film based on the book. North Atlantic Books is releasing 50,000 copies of the revised edition in July, to be supported by online, print and radio promotions.
The new edition of Diary will have an introduction by comics scholar Hillary Chute, and will also feature a preface by Gloeckner discussing the making of the book.
While Diary has been “a steady performer” according to North Atlantic’s director of publishing, Tim McKee, he said sales of the 2002 edition have been rising steadily over the last six to eight months as the film has gained attention. NAB plans to hold small events for the book on the West Coast, McKee said, and will also be working with Sony Pictures Classics (which is distributing the film) to promote the book closer to the film’s August release.
The revised edition of Diary is not directly tied to the movie, and this is by design. “We have a belief in the book itself outside the movie,” McKee said. Diary of a Teenage Girl and its comics predecessor, A Child’s Life, a collection of Gloeckner’s semi-autobiographical comics stories first published in 1998, have long been acclaimed for their accurate historical depiction of San Francisco in the 1970’s, specifically that of young people caught in a web of drugs, sex and urban social exploration. The books, McKee said, explore "the boundaries that young people test,” and "the pain of stepping outside the boundary.”
Diary uses photographs and comics to tell the story of Minnie Goetze, its fifteen-year-old protagonist, who is struggling with sexuality and drugs. While the book melds a prose narrative with comics, the film, directed by Marielle Heller and starring Bel Powley, Alexander Skarsgard, and Kristen Wiig, mixes live action with graphics and animation in the same hybrid vein.
Gloeckner, who is also a medical illustrator and an associate professor in Art and Design at the University of Michigan, told PW she had entertained the idea of a film for a long time. She had talked with directors in the past, but “feared their interpretation would change the meaning of the book.” When Heller approached Gloeckner about adapting Diary into a play, something clicked; Heller ultimately directed and starred in a 2010 stage adaptation of the book. “I needed to find a director I could trust to adapt the book," Glockner said. "Mari and I formed a good friendship.”
“The best an author can hope for is to not be embarrassed,” Gloeckner said, acknowledging the differences between the mediums of print and cinema. “The movie allows sexuality in a teenage girl not seen in films previously. It’s more a celebration of teenage sexuality,” she said. “But the book is much darker. Minnie’s view on things is not the norm. She’s looking for love, but love is sex, in her mind, based on her past.”
Gloeckner, in the meantime, has spent the last ten years working on a new book that is set on the border between El Paso, Tex., and Juarez, Mexico. She has traveled to Juarez a few times every year to learn about the neighborhoods of Mexico’s most violent city, and she said this new work will revolve around the murder of a teenager.
Correction: an earlier version of this story that said Sony Pictures is distributing the new film is wrong. It is Sony Pictures Classics. Also the author's preface is only about the book, not about the adaptations.