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An Abbreviated Life: A Memoir by Ariel Leve

An Abbreviated Life: A Memoir (edition 2017)

by Ariel Leve (Author)

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453395,264 (4.14)None
"The author describes how she endured as the only child of an unstable poet for a mother and a beloved but largely absent father and explores the consequences of a psychologically harrowing childhood as she seeks refuge from the past and recovers what was lost,"--NoveList.
Title:An Abbreviated Life: A Memoir
Authors:Ariel Leve (Author)
Info:Harper Perennial (2017), Edition: Reprint, 288 pages
Collections:Your library, To read, own-owned
Tags:memoir--Leve Ariel 1968-, mothers and daughters, biog--journalist

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An Abbreviated Life: A Memoir by Ariel Leve



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As I read this I found myself thinking the author's therapist must have suggested she 'write a letter' and this book was the result. A few lines from the opening paragraph of chapter 50 show what I mean, "Sometimes those stories free us. Sometimes they free others. When they are not told, they free no one." The stories Ariel Leve tells describe a stealthy sort of abuse that transcends the physical and includes many of the classic tactics used by narcissists. I hope writing this book was therapeutic for its author and will be illuminating for others.

I received this book for free through Goodreads Giveaways. ( )
  wandaly | Jul 21, 2017 |
This is an account of the author's childhood with an immature, self-absorbed, narcissistic, and abusive mother. What makes this memoir different from others of its ilk are (1) that her childhood and adolescence occurred in the upper east side of NYC, one of the most affluent areas in the U.S., and (2) that her mother was a rather well-known poet and early feminist. The author grew up in a rarefied atmosphere, with such people as Andy Warhol regularly attending her mother's frequent parties.

While this memoir is compelling (often even mesmerizing) to read, it's simultaneously deeply upsetting and frustrating. The author's mother no doubt had serious psychological problems, and it is terribly sad to see how the author, as a young girl, was forced to endure the fallout of her mother's craziness and self-absorption. On the other hand ... some of the abuse that the author describes honestly wasn't as bad as what so many other children have suffered. The author did grow up enjoying many privileges, including private school. She had a father who loved her, although he lived in southeast Asia, and for some reason did not do whatever it took to move himself back to NY, so that he could be part of his daughter's daily life. She had a nanny who took reasonably good care of her, and other adults who obviously cared about her welfare. The author's tendency to endlessly perseverate about her abusive childhood, and her inexplicable inability to draw clear boundaries with her mother as an adult are very frustrating. The author sees herself as forever damaged and goes to great lengths to convince her readers of that. Many children have overcome worse (read "The Sound of Gravel" by Ruth Wariner for an inspiring example), and have demonstrated their resilience and their ability to transcend. "Don't be a victim," the author's mother once said to her; that was a rare instance of her mother providing good advice, and Ms. Leve would have done well to heed it. Enough with the navel-gazing, Ms. Leve, time to move on. ( )
  Annesq | Feb 13, 2017 |
Not only is this a powerful and fascinating story of a terrible childhood and how it affected Leve's development as a human being, it is a beautifully written and compulsively readable book. I read it all in one go, all 288 pages, because I couldn't put it down. This is not something I generally do with books.

A painful, disturbing read but highty recommended! ( )
1 vote EnidaV | Oct 16, 2016 |
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