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Truth & Beauty: A Friendship by Ann Patchett
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Truth & Beauty: A Friendship (2004)

by Ann Patchett

MembersReviewsPopularityAverage ratingMentions
2,242834,175 (3.93)112
  1. 20
    Autobiography of a Face by Lucy Grealy (joaldo)
    joaldo: I recommend reading Autobiography of a Face first, then Truth and Beauty. Autobiography of a Face should be enjoyed for what it is, without being in some way 'tainted' by the harsher view of Lucy's friend, Ann Patchett. Reading Ann's book next will then give the reader a completely different perspective on the poet herself, her work, and on their friendship.… (more)
  2. 02
    The Disaster Artist: My Life Inside The Room, the Greatest Bad Movie Ever Made by Greg Sestero (akblanchard)
    akblanchard: An interesting memoir about an unconventional, unequal friendship.
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Showing 1-5 of 82 (next | show all)
How much of an author's intention should be factored into your enjoyment/valuation of a book? How can you determine the author's intention? Is it via the blurb? Or is that just a marketing thing that the author has no control over?

This book has me mulling a lot over the above, because depending on the answer, this is either one of the best books I've ever read, or the worst. On one hand, what an awful book that seems to be an underhanded way of undercutting your allegedly best friend's life. And on the other hand, perhaps as a metatext, what an incredible insight to an exhausting and unhealthy (masking as supportive) relationship.

A nonfiction based on the friendship between writer Ann Patchett and poet Lucy Grealy since college/grad school, its blurb touts it as a record of this beautiful dedicated female friendship. And on the surface, perhaps, yet between the lines there's so much anger (potentially residual grief seeing as how soon this book was published after Grealy's passing), so much dysfunction, and enabling, and self-martyring in this dependent love-hate relationship.

Aside: The title and the level of dysfunction in their relationship remind me of The Secret History with cliquey-Grealy and Richard-Patchett, a passive enabler with a complex to help and be needed, charmed by the charismatic cult of personality of the clique.

Further reading: this Guardian article by Suellen, Grealy's sister, on the impact of this book on Grealy's family. ( )
  kitzyl | Dec 12, 2018 |
I'm struggling to verbalize why I gave this book three stars, considering the fact that I didn't like it very much.

The story is interesting, sure. Lucy Grealy had cancer as a child, and as a result, had her jawbone removed and endured many, many reconstructive surgeries. I guess that's what kept me reading the whole time - wondering what would happen to her. I had never heard of Lucy before reading this book, so I didn't know what her cause of death would be. I assumed it would be somehow related to the cancer, or that there would be complications during one of her many surgeries.

I don't know how much of this book really was true. I hope that most of it was, because honestly, Lucy Grealy did not come across as a likable person. So either she really was that awful, or Patchett spent an entire book making her best friend sound a whole lot worse than she really was. I hope it's the former. It seemed obvious to me that Lucy had numerous psychological issues; I am not a doctor, but she should have been in therapy at a very, very young age. Her clinginess and neediness were off the charts, and she engaged in self-destructive behavior constantly.

But then you have to ask yourself how anyone could have gone through what Lucy did and not be completely screwed up.

I guess that after reading this book, I feel torn and worn out. I feel so sorry for Lucy because of what she went through, and I feel sorry for the friends that she seemed to have taken advantage of. I'm sorry that her family had to see Lucy's life end the way it did, and that they had to deal with the publication of this book.

And like, seriously though, Lucy seemed REALLY messed up. Like, to a ridiculous degree. She just seemed awful. I was so angry at her during most of the book. As I've said before, I think I should probably just stay away from memoirs. ( )
  loranne_test_01 | Nov 12, 2018 |
I'm struggling to verbalize why I gave this book three stars, considering the fact that I didn't like it very much.

The story is interesting, sure. Lucy Grealy had cancer as a child, and as a result, had her jawbone removed and endured many, many reconstructive surgeries. I guess that's what kept me reading the whole time - wondering what would happen to her. I had never heard of Lucy before reading this book, so I didn't know what her cause of death would be. I assumed it would be somehow related to the cancer, or that there would be complications during one of her many surgeries.

I don't know how much of this book really was true. I hope that most of it was, because honestly, Lucy Grealy did not come across as a likable person. So either she really was that awful, or Patchett spent an entire book making her best friend sound a whole lot worse than she really was. I hope it's the former. It seemed obvious to me that Lucy had numerous psychological issues; I am not a doctor, but she should have been in therapy at a very, very young age. Her clinginess and neediness were off the charts, and she engaged in self-destructive behavior constantly.

But then you have to ask yourself how anyone could have gone through what Lucy did and not be completely screwed up.

I guess that after reading this book, I feel torn and worn out. I feel so sorry for Lucy because of what she went through, and I feel sorry for the friends that she seemed to have taken advantage of. I'm sorry that her family had to see Lucy's life end the way it did, and that they had to deal with the publication of this book.

And like, seriously though, Lucy seemed REALLY messed up. Like, to a ridiculous degree. She just seemed awful. I was so angry at her during most of the book. As I've said before, I think I should probably just stay away from memoirs. ( )
1 vote kristi_test_02 | Nov 9, 2018 |
I first learned about the friendship of Ann Patchett and Lucy Grealy, in Patchett's excellent essay collection, This Is the Story of a Happy Marriage, so I knew I wanted to read the full story in this moving and unflinching memoir.
Ann and Lucy met in college. Lucy had a bout of childhood cancer, leaving her with a serious facial disfigurement, that wasted away her lower jaw. She ended up having nearly 40 surgeries, up until her premature death at age 39. Lucy dealt with self-esteem issues her entire life, which led her to substance abuse problems and suicidal tendencies.
This is the story of their unique friendship, which had plenty of bumps along the way, as Ann tried to help Lucy deal with her multitude of issues. The prose is strong, all along the way, with a staunch sense of honesty, that is sometimes hard to bear. Now, I want to read, Autobiography of a Face, which is Lucy's own story. Highly recommended. ( )
  msf59 | Oct 15, 2017 |
Ann Patchett met Lucy Grealy in college, but their friendship blossomed during graduate school at the Iowa Writers Workshop. The two complemented one another: Lucy was a free spirit, Ann was organized and practical. But Lucy’s life was complicated by childhood cancer which left her with virtually no jaw, and all of the self-esteem issues that can arise from looking different. As an adult, Lucy had several reconstructive surgeries, but none were successful. The two women supported each other as they encountered personal and professional challenges; Ann was always quick to hop on a plane to New York to visit Lucy any time she was needed, and especially after surgery. Lucy died young (not a spoiler, it’s evident in the dedication), but she left an impact on everyone who knew her.

Both Ann and Lucy ultimately experienced literary success and fame, Ann as the author of several novels and Lucy through her memoir, Autobiography of a Face which now I simply MUST read. Truth and Beauty is Ann’s tribute to their intensely close friendship, and a very moving tribute it is. ( )
2 vote lauralkeet | Sep 1, 2017 |
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The thing you can count on in life is that Tennessee will always be scorching hot in August.
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Amazon.com Product Description (ISBN 0060572159, Paperback)

Ann Patchett and the late Lucy Grealy met in college in 1981, and, after enrolling in the Iowa Writers’ Workshop, began a friendship that would be as defining to both of their lives as their work. In Grealy’s critically acclaimed memoir, Autobiography of a Face, she wrote about losing part of her jaw to childhood cancer, years of chemotherapy and radiation, and endless reconstructive surgeries. In Truth & Beauty, the story isn’t Lucy’s life or Ann’s life, but the parts of their lives they shared. This is a portrait of unwavering commitment that spans twenty years, from the long winters of the Midwest, to surgical wards, to book parties in New York. Through love, fame, drugs, and despair, this is what it means to be part of two lives that are intertwined . . . and what happens when one is left behind.

This is a tender, brutal book about loving the person we cannot save. It is about loyalty, and being lifted up by the sheer effervescence of someone who knew how to live life to the fullest.

(retrieved from Amazon Thu, 12 Mar 2015 18:07:41 -0400)

(see all 5 descriptions)

The author describes her twenty-year friendship with Lucy Grealy, tracing their introduction at a writer's workshop, the integral part their friendship played in their writing careers, and her witness to Grealy's medical deterioration.

» see all 8 descriptions

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