Slonim Woods 9: A Memoir

Daniel Barban Levin. Crown, $28 (272p) ISBN 978-0-593-13885-4
Poet Levin debuts with a chilling account of the two years he spent living as part of a cult. Writing in eloquent prose, he describes how such a thing can happen, and why, as he puts it, “The alarms kept screaming, and we ignored them.” Levin’s freshman year at Sarah Lawrence College was like any other student’s, until he met Larry Ray, his classmate Talia’s father, in 2010. Ray lived with his daughter and her friends at their communal dorm, and, claiming to be a Defense Intelligence Agency operative, he ingratiated his way into the group first with relationship advice, and then guilt and intimidation. “You make your world what it is,” he tells Levin, “closed, small, weak, empty, bleak, barren... they don’t see it, but I see it.” Gripped by fear, the friends were eventually subjected to sexual and physical violence, and explicit torture, all by Ray. After two years, Levin finally found the strength to leave, seek therapy, and, with the encouragement of a friend, begin to write his story. (Ray currently awaits trial on federal charges of, among other things, conspiracy, extortion, and sex trafficking.) It’s tragic, but it’s also a powerful portrayal of a young man’s ability to emerge whole from an experience intended to break him. As dark as it is, there’s real beauty in this story. Agent: Chris Clemans, Janklow & Nesbit Assoc. (Sept.)
Reviewed on : 03/29/2021
Release date: 03/23/2021
Genre: Nonfiction
Book - 1 pages - 978-0-593-13886-1
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