Truth & beauty A friendship

Ann Patchett

Large print - 2004

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1st floor LARGE PRINT/BIOGRAPHY/Grealy, Lucy Due Dec 22, 2023
Waterville, Me. : Thorndike Press 2004.
Main Author
Ann Patchett (-)
Large print ed
Item Description
Simultaneously published: New York : HarperCollins, c2004.
Physical Description
397 p. (large print)
Contents unavailable.
Review by Booklist Review

Patchett's fourth novel, Bel Canto0 (2001), was a resounding success, but all was not rosy. Her best friend, fellow writer Lucy Grealy, was suffering some of the worst times yet in her altogether traumatic life. Grealy died in December 2002, and Patchett now offers an electrifyingly intimate portrait of a remarkable human being, and a profoundly insightful chronicle of an incandescent friendship. Grealy wrote about her life-defining struggle with cancer of the jaw, and the cruel disfigurement left in its wake, in Autobiography of a Face0 (1994), a shattering memoir that transformed its scintillating and daring author into a celebrity who all too soon became a cause celebre. Patchett and Grealy's loving, complicated, and, for Patchett, extraordinarily demanding relationship began when they roomed together while attending the Iowa Writers' Workshop. Their shared passion for literature fueled their bond, and one particularly intriguing facet of this bracing remembrance is its insider perspective on the writing life. But their attraction was also one of temperamental opposites. "We were a pairing out of an Aesop's fable, the grasshopper and the ant," Patchett writes, casting herself, oh so poignantly, as the ant. Dazzling in its psychological interpretations, piquant in its wit, candid in its self-portraiture, and gracefully balanced between emotion and reason, this is an utterly involving and cathartic elegy that speaks to everyone who would do anything for their soul mate. --Donna Seaman Copyright 2004 Booklist

From Booklist, Copyright (c) American Library Association. Used with permission.
Review by Publisher's Weekly Review

This memoir of Patchett's friendship with Autobiography of a Face author Lucy Grealy shares many insights into the nature of devotion. One of the best instances of this concerns a fable of ants and grasshoppers. When winter came, the hard-working ant took the fun-loving grasshopper in, each understanding their roles were immutable. It was a symbiotic relationship. Like the grasshopper, Grealy, who died of cancer at age 39 in 2002, was an untethered creature, who liked nothing more than to dance, drink and fling herself into Patchett's arms like a kitten. Patchett (The Patron Saint of Liars; Bel Canto) tells this story chronologically, in bursts of dialogue, memory and snippets of Grealy's letters, moving from the unfolding of their deep connection in graduate school and into the more turbulent waters beyond. Patchett describes her attempts to be a writer, while Grealy endured a continuous round of operations as a result of her cancer. Later, when adulthood brought success, but also heartbreak and drug addiction, the duo continued to be intertwined, even though their link sometimes seemed to fray. This gorgeously written chronicle unfolds as an example of how friendships can contain more passion and affection than any in the romantic realm. And although Patchett unflinchingly describes the difficulties she and Grealy faced in the years after grad school, she never loses the feeling she had the first time Grealy sprang into her arms: "[She] came through the door and it was there, huge and permanent and first." Agent, Lisa Bankoff. (May 14) Forecast: Patchett and Grealy are graduates of the Iowa Writers Workshop, and alumni and other literary types will be interested in this book. National advertising and a reading group guide could make it popular among a more general women's audience. (c) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved

(c) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved
Review by Library Journal Review

In her first nonfiction work, the author of the best-selling Bel Canto recounts her extraordinary relationship with poet Lucy Grealy, whose Autobiography of a Face memorably recounts her ordeal with cancer as a child and the subsequent operations to reconstruct her face. The two first met at Sarah Lawrence College and, after being accepted into the prestigious Iowa Writers' Workshop, became roommates out of necessity. Their friendship began there and developed into an intellectually stimulating relationship that shaped them as both women and artists. They remained best friends until Grealy's tragic death in December 2002. To tell her story, Patchett effectively intersperses her memories with Grealy's letters and also considers how adults forge familial relationships. The result is a contemporary story of friendship and the writing life at once intense, honest, and heartbreaking. Most highly recommended for all libraries, whether public or academic.-Pam Kingsbury, Univ. of North Alabama, Florence (c) Copyright 2010. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.

(c) Copyright Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.
Review by School Library Journal Review

Adult/High School-Lucy Grealy, whose Autobiography of a Face (HarperCollins, 1995) found critical acclaim as well as a popular readership, died two years ago. Patchett first met the poet in college, became her roommate in graduate school, and remained devoted to her through years of artistic, medical, economic, and emotional upheavals. The ties binding these two women included resolve to meet physical adversity with energy and to place friendship beyond the reaches of either habit or convenience. Patchett moves the story from their acclimation to one another through her friend's lifelong desire to gain a reconstructed face and the lengths to which she went in search of what she'd lost to childhood cancer, to Grealy's ultimate slide into drugs and suicidal ideations. Patchett's own self-perception as the straight arrow to her friend's daredevilry is disclosed across time, as is Grealy's increasingly frenetic chase for a reconstructed face and, as important, for fame earned through writing. In spite of the story unfolding through the years between college and near middle age, teenage girls will find it accessible and engaging. The author's clear-eyed depiction of the writer's life as requiring gigs waiting tables and suburban tract housing is refreshingly honest. She includes details of more glamorous moments as well; this is no cautionary tale, but a celebration of friendship and of craft.-Francisca Goldsmith, Berkeley Public Library, CA (c) Copyright 2010. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.

(c) Copyright Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.
Review by Kirkus Book Review

In her first nonfiction, novelist Patchett (Bel Canto, 2001, etc.) paints a deeply moving portrait of friendship between two talented writers, illuminating the bond between herself and poet Lucy Grealy. Although they were undergraduates together at Sarah Lawrence, it was not until 1981, when both were teaching and writing at the Iowa Writers' Workshop, that the young women's lives collided. As Patchett recounts it, the tiny Grealy (Autobiography of a Face, 1994) leaped into her arms. "It was not so much a greeting as it was a claim: she was staking out this spot on my chest and I was to hold her for as long as she wanted to stay." That image persists in their 20-year friendship; Grealy had a powerful hold on her many friends, Patchett included. A survivor of childhood cancer with a badly disfigured face and a frail body, Grealy struggled with enormous physical difficulties, bouts of depression, and money problems; she was also given to reckless sexual adventures. Early in their friendship, Patchett decided that she would not spend her time worrying about her friend; instead, she would show her love in actions. And she did so for the rest of Grealy's short life, providing shelter, paying bills, giving post-surgery care, cleaning up the messes. After Iowa, their lives took different paths, but their friendship remained strong. Patchett saved Grealy's letters to her and includes generous excerpts that make it easier to understand her commitment to her demanding friend. The letters reveal Grealy's warmth, her captivating intellect, her poet's eye. After her last round of surgery failed, she went from prescription painkillers to street heroin, and her life spiraled downward, but even when Grealy was most devastated and difficult, Patchett still found her the person she knew best and was most comfortable with, the friend like no other to whom she could speak with "complexity and nuance." A tough and loving tribute, hard to put down, impossible to forget. Copyright ©Kirkus Reviews, used with permission.

Copyright (c) Kirkus Reviews, used with permission.

Truth & Beauty Chapter One The thing you can count on in life is that Tennessee will always be scorching hot in August. In 1985 you could also pretty much count on the fact that the U-Haul truck you rented to drive from Tennessee to Iowa, cutting up through Missouri, would have no air-conditioning or that the air-conditioning would be broken. These are the things I knew for sure when I left home to start graduate school. The windows were down in the truck and my stepsister, Tina, was driving. We sat on towels to keep our bare legs from adhering to the black vinyl seats and licked melted M&Ms off our fingers. My feet were on the dashboard and we were singing because the radio had gone the way of the air conditioner. "Going to the chapel and we're -- gonna get mar-ar-aried." We knew all the words to that one. Tina had the better voice, one more reason I was grateful she had agreed to come along for the ride. I was twenty-one and on my way to be a fiction writer. The whole prospect seemed as simple as that: rent a truck, take a few leftover pots and pans and a single bed mattress from the basement of my mother's house, pack up my typewriter. The hills of the Tennessee Valley flattened out before we got to Memphis and as we headed north the landscape covered over with corn. The blue sky blanched white in the heat. I leaned out the window and thought, Good, no distractions. I had been to Iowa City once before in June to find a place to live. I was looking for two apartments then, one for myself and one for Lucy Grealy, who I had gone to college with. I got a note from Lucy not long after receiving my acceptance letter from the Iowa Writers' Workshop. She said that initially when she heard I had gotten into the workshop she was sorry, because she had wanted to be the only student there from Sarah Lawrence. But then our mutual friend Jono Wilks had told her that I was going up early to find housing and if this was the case, would I find a place for her as well? She couldn't afford to make the trip to look herself and so it went without saying that she was on a very tight budget. I sat at the kitchen table and looked at her handwriting, which seemed oddly scrawny and uncertain, like a note on a birthday card from an elderly aunt. I had never seen her writing before, and certainly these were the only words she had ever addressed to me. While Lucy and I would later revise our personal history to say we had been friends since we met as freshmen, just for the pleasure of adding a few more years to the tally, the truth was we did not know each other at all in college. Or the truth was that I knew her and she did not know me. Even at Sarah Lawrence, a school full of models and actresses and millionaire daughters of industry, everyone knew Lucy and everyone knew her story: she had had a Ewing's sarcoma at the age of nine, had lived through five years of the most brutal radiation and chemotherapy, and then undergone a series of reconstructive surgeries that were largely unsuccessful. The drama of her life, combined with her reputation for being the smartest student in all of her classes, made her the campus mascot, the favorite pet in her dirty jeans and oversized Irish sweaters. She kept her head tipped down so that her long dark blond hair fell over her face to hide the fact that part of her lower jaw was missing. From a distance you would have thought she had lost something, money or keys, and that she was vigilantly searching the ground trying to find it. It was Lucy's work-study job to run the film series on Friday and Saturday nights, and before she would turn the projector on, it was up to her to walk in front of the screen and explain that in accordance with the New York State Fire Marshal, exits were located at either side of the theater. Only she couldn't say it, because the crowd of students cheered her so wildly, screaming and applauding and chanting her name, "LOO-cee, LOO-cee, LOO-cee!" She would wrap her arms around her head and twist from side to side, mortified, loving it. Her little body, the body of an underfed eleven-year-old, was visibly shaking inside her giant sweaters. Finally her embarrassment reached such proportions that the audience recognized it and settled down. She had to speak her lines. "In accordance with the New York State Fire Marshal," she would begin. She was shouting, but her voice was smaller than the tiny frame it came from. It was no more than a whisper once it passed the third row. I watched this show almost every weekend. It was as great a part of the evening's entertainment as seeing Jules et Jim. Being shy myself, I did not come to shout her name until our junior year. By then she would wave to the audience as they screamed for her. She would bow from the waist. She had cut off her hair so that it was now something floppy and boyish, a large cowlick sweeping up from her pale forehead. We could see her face clearly. It was always changing, swollen after a surgery or sinking in on itself after a surgery had failed. One year she walked with a cane and someone told me it was because they had taken a chunk of her hip to grind up and graft into her jaw. We knew things about Lucy the way one knows things about the private lives of movie stars, by a kind of osmosis of information ... Truth & Beauty . Copyright © by Ann Patchett. Reprinted by permission of HarperCollins Publishers, Inc. All rights reserved. Available now wherever books are sold. Excerpted from Truth and Beauty: A Friendship by Ann Patchett All rights reserved by the original copyright owners. Excerpts are provided for display purposes only and may not be reproduced, reprinted or distributed without the written permission of the publisher.