||This article needs additional citations for verification. (March 2013)|
Pelzer speaking to Airmen while visiting troops in Southwest Asia.
December 29, 1960 |
Daly City, California
|Occupation||Autobiographer, motivational speaker|
|Notable work(s)||A Child Called "It"|
David James (Dave) Pelzer (born December 29, 1960 in San Francisco, California) is an American entrepreneur and author, of three autobiographical books and one self-help book, best known for his 1995 memoir of childhood abuse, A Child Called "It". Pelzer is the son of a San Francisco fireman, Stephen Joseph Pelzer (1923–1980) and Catherine Roerva Christen Pelzer (1929–1992).
Pelzer was born in San Francisco, California, and was the third of five boys. He is now living in a different state with his second wife and kids. Pelzer wrote in his book that as a child, he was continually abused, mistreated, and beaten by his mother, who thought of it as a game. The book describes how his mother starved him, forced him to drink ammonia, stabbed him in the stomach, burned his arm on a gas stove, and forced him to eat his own vomit. His teachers stepped in on March 5, 1973, and 12-year-old Pelzer was placed in foster care. He joined the U.S. Air Force in 1979 and later became an author.
The assertions in his memoirs have led to some skeptical commentary. A New York Times article queried the reliability of Pelzer's recollections, and describes Pelzer zealously promoting his book and preoccupied with its standing on the The New York Times Best Seller list. It notes that "Pelzer has an exquisite recall of his abuse, but almost no recall of anything that would authenticate that abuse," such as any details about his mother. The Guardian notes that gaps in the background narrative "makes the foreground harder to trust."
Pelzer has been called "the most famous author you've never heard of" and described as insistently advising "don't dwell on the past", while he "very profitably" dwells on his.
The book has led to a dispute within the family. One of his younger brothers, Stephen, denies that any abuse took place, and says that he thinks David was placed in foster care because "he started a fire and was caught shoplifting." However, his other brother Richard Pelzer is author of the book A Brother's Journey, which confirms much of what David has said and describes his own abuse when David was finally removed from the home.
Pelzer has been criticized for making a profitable industry out of child abuse. His writing style is wordy; he "rarely uses one word where five will do" so that "the violence becomes effectively pornographic; thrilling and meaningless", according to a reviewer in the The Guardian, who wonders if those who read the book "might, in fact, be paedophiles".
- A Child Called It (1995)
- The Lost Boy: A Foster Child's Search for the Love of a Family (1997)
- A Man Named Dave: A Story of Triumph and Forgiveness (2000)
- Help Yourself (2001)
- The Privilege of Youth (2004)
- Help Yourself for Teens (2005)
- Moving Forward (2009)
Awards and recognition
- JC Penney Golden Rule Award (1990)
- National Jefferson Award (2005)
- "California Birth Index", www.ancestry.com : "David J Pelzer , December 29, 1960, San Francisco County, mother's maiden name Christa"
- Plotz, David (September 29, 2000). "Dave Pelzer The child-abuse entrepreneur". Slate. Retrieved 29 March 2013.
- Jordan, Pat (July 28, 2002). "Dysfunction For Dollars". New York Times.
- "Is He Making "It" All Up?". The Mail on Sunday.
- Bedell, Geraldine (1 September 2001). "Child abuse as entertainment". The Guardian. Retrieved 29 March 2013.