An Abbreviated Life: A Memoir

Ariel Leve. Harper, $26.99 (288p) ISBN 978-0-06-226945-4
Leve, a journalist, author, and daughter of a poet whom she leaves unnamed, suffered an abusive mother-daughter relationship that reached well into adulthood. In this searing portrait, Leve vividly renders the trauma she endured and her struggle to free herself from her mother. To her friends, who included Andy Warhol and Saul Bellow, Leve’s mother is vivacious and alluring, regularly throwing dinner parties at her Manhattan penthouse. But as a single mother (Leve’s father left the family and moved to Bali), when she commands her child’s time and attention, her demands are absolute, her needs bottomless, and her rages unpredictable and seismic. “Throughout my childhood I was threatened with her lava consuming me,” Leve writes. When her mother is busy writing, she wants Leve silent (disruptive kid games aren’t allowed), and hands her off to a nanny, family friends, or near-strangers. Leve never directly addresses what’s behind her mother’s behavior beyond mentioning medication. Her mother is, Leve notes, the person who supported her talents and helped shape her into a writer. It’s not until Leve, after much therapy, decides in her 40s to move to Bali and limits her mother to contact over email that she experiences a release. Aided by a new relationship, she learns to trust. Leve’s powerful story of surviving her brutal childhood demonstrates that contentment can be found. Agent: Rob Weisbach, Rob Weisbach Creative. (June)
Reviewed on: 05/02/2016
Release date: 06/01/2016
Genre: Nonfiction
Ebook - 288 pages - 978-0-06-226947-8
Paperback - 288 pages - 978-0-06-226946-1
Downloadable Audio - 978-0-06-256586-0
Compact Disc - 978-1-5047-6588-6
MP3 CD - 978-1-5047-6589-3
Compact Disc - 978-1-5047-6590-9
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Audio book sample courtesy of HarperAudio
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