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The Draw: A Memoir by Lee Siegel
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The Draw: A Memoir

by Lee Siegel

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Amazon.com Product Description (ISBN 0374178054, Hardcover)

The Draw is a coming-of-age story about a boy striving to make his way up through society and out of a family that has been emotionally and psychologically devastated by economic misfortune. Lee Siegel’s father, Monroe, a kind and decent man, accumulates a crushing debt to the company he works for, a real estate firm that has been paying him an advance, or “draw,” against future commissions. “The more he depended on the Draw to live,” Lee writes of his father, “the more it shrank his life.” As the recession hits in the mid- 1970s, Monroe finds himself without commissions, and thus unable to pay back his employer. Fired from his job, he is pursued by the law, loses his wife to divorce, and eventually declares bankruptcy. Lee’s mother, Lola, confronting a bleak and tenuous future, experiences a breakdown that transforms her into a seductive yet vindictive adversary of Lee, her older son.

To escape his mother’s bewildering manipulations and the shame and rage that his father’s fate incites in him, Lee creates an alter ego elevated by literature, music, and art. As he stumbles through a series of menial jobs while trying to succeed as a writer, Lee dreams of the protected space of a great university where he can fulfill his destiny in his work. But in order to attend college, he has to take out loans, unwittingly repeating his father’s trajectory.

Propelled by riveting stories and unforgettable portraits, The Draw weaves a defiant stand against a society in which, as the author observes, the struggle with money can turn someone’s innocent weakness
into a weapon of self-destruction. As much a flesh-and-blood parable of economics as an intimate memoir brimming with harsh introspection, intellectual reverie, and surprising evocations of sexuality―the way you handle money and the way you have sex are often mutually illuminating, the author writes―Lee Siegel’s youthful odyssey is for anyone who has tried to break through the barriers of family, class, and money to the freedom to choose
his or her own path in life.

(retrieved from Amazon Sun, 19 Feb 2017 00:46:13 -0500)

"A young boy's awakening to the conflict between innate gifts and social class is at the center of this searing memoir about the unforgiving sovereignty of money. Hoping to make a killing in New Jersey real estate, the author's father, Monroe Siegel, takes a draw from his employer against unearned commission. When the recession hits in the 1970s, Monroe finds himself owing a small fortune to his firm. He sinks toward divorce and bankruptcy, while Lola, Lee's mother, suffers a nervous breakdown that turns her into a different person. Shamed and enraged by his father's fate, Lee grows up wondering what society owes a person who has failed materially but preserved his humanity. 'Other men got rewarded for their cold-heartedness, and often for their dishonesty, while he, Monroe Siegel, who had never hurt anyone, had to groan and stumble through life. Did not kindness deserve an income?' As a teen, Lee tries to make a different life for himself. He goes to a private college in the Midwest, is forced to leave due to his father's bankruptcy, and returns to New Jersey to work a series of menial jobs. He enrolls at a state college and then drops out to seek a better existence abroad, only to return to the United States in debt and in despair. Suddenly, a promising new life opens to him. At a price. The Draw touches on fundamental questions: How do we balance our obligations to ourselves with our obligations to others? What do we owe society when its rules have a legal basis but not a moral one? Written with startling candor and psychological acuity, Lee Siegels The Draw is for anyone who has ever struggled with money, or who has tried to break through the barriers of family and class."-- "A memoir about dwelling in a world of debt"--… (more)

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