The rules do not apply

Ariel Levy

Book - 2017

"A gorgeous, darkly humorous memoir for readers of Cheryl Strayed about a woman overcoming dramatic loss and finding reinvention, as well as a portrait of a generation used to assuming they're entitled to everything--based on this award-winning writer's New Yorker article 'Thanksgiving in Mongolia'"--

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BIOGRAPHY/Levy, Ariel
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Subjects
Genres
Autobiographies
Published
New York : Random House 2017.
Edition
First edition
Language
English
Physical Description
pages cm
ISBN
9780812996937
0812996933
Main Author
Ariel Levy (author)
Review by Booklist Reviews

Levy (Female Chauvinist Pigs, 2005) won a National Magazine Award in 2014 for her essay "Thanksgiving in Mongolia," published in the New Yorker (where she's a staff writer), and this memoir is a sweeping, life-spanning extension of that piece. In her late thirties, Levy suffered a traumatic end to a much-wanted pregnancy. Her marriage, with a woman she adored, was simultaneously falling apart at the seams, stretched thin by addiction and past infidelity. Levy tells many stories here: of her upbringing in suburban New York; of her ferocious, dovetailing pursuits of a career in journalism and a life of adventure; of her parents, friends, and lovers. Levy writes of the sudden panic over her fertility ("One day you are very young and then suddenly you are thirty-five and it is Time"), the golden solution found in a male friend who wanted to father and also provide for Levy and her wife's child, and the bottomless depths of the resulting loss. Levy's generous portrait of modern feminism—at turns bleak, heartrending, inspired, and hopeful—speaks strongly and directly to readers. Copyright 2017 Booklist Reviews.

Review by Library Journal Reviews

For some readers, this stellar work will evoke memories, as author (Female Chauvinist Pigs) and New Yorker staff writer Levy first wrote of the catalyzing events depicted here in a New Yorker piece, "Thanksgiving in Mongolia." However, this account ranges further afield. With intensity and grace, Levy unpacks her courtship, marriage, affair, pregnancy, the premature birth and death of her child, her wife's alcoholism, their separation, and divorce in a scant 200-plus pages, yet her writing feels expansive. Readers will find a compelling meditation on what it means to be female, to be married, and to explore the boundaries and contexts that surround personhood, marriage, desire, and aspiration. This title serves to remind readers, as well as the author, that while rules exist, they need not ultimately define us. VERDICT Levy uses her considerable talents, presented in raw, genuinely felt prose, to bring readers into deeply personal experiences that resonate on a visceral level. (Memoir, 2/20/17; ow.ly/B6Ub30a5C5W)—Rachael Dreyer, Eberly Family Special Collections Lib., Pennsylvania State Univ. Copyright 2017 Library Journal.

Review by Publishers Weekly Reviews

In this dark and absorbing memoir, Levy (Female Chauvinist Pigs), a staff writer for the New Yorker, recounts her complicated life and, with stunning clarity, reveals that the best laid plans can be sidetracked. As a child in Larchmont, N.Y., Levy was taught that she could achieve anything she wanted. Her mother encouraged her to make her own rules, with one caveat: never become dependent upon a man. As a successful young writer in the 1990s (first for New York magazine), Levy traveled widely, writing primarily on the topic of sexuality and gender. At 28, she fell in love with and married a 41-year-old woman with substance abuse problems. Though Levy longed for motherhood and a comfortable life, she also had a "compulsion" for adventure. Ten years later she got pregnant with the help of a sperm donor and then suffered a miscarriage while on assignment in Mongolia. Levy took a writerly approach to the narrative of her own life, believing that her personal story would unfold as if she had penned it. Her awakening to the fact that life doesn't always cooperate with one's plan is raw and compelling. Though some of the lessons learned in this memorable story are painful, Levy ultimately finds redemption in her ability to glimpse the light beyond the darkness, and to gain a deepening gratitude for friends, family, and her profession. (Mar.) Copyright 2016 Publisher Weekly.

Review by Publisher Summary 1

An award-winning New Yorker staff writer and author of Female Chauvinist Pigs shares a profound, hopeful memoir of her own experiences with devastating loss to council fellow survivors about the healing aspects of accepting difficult life challenges that are beyond our control.

Review by Publisher Summary 2

"A gorgeous, darkly humorous memoir for readers of Cheryl Strayed about a woman overcoming dramatic loss and finding reinvention, as well as a portrait of a generation used to assuming they're entitled to everything--based on this award-winning writer's New Yorker article 'Thanksgiving in Mongolia'"--

Review by Publisher Summary 3

A "New Yorker" staff writer shares a hopeful memoir of her own experiences with devastating loss to council fellow survivors about the healing aspects of accepting difficult life challenges that are beyond one's control.

Review by Publisher Summary 4

"In 2012, at age 38, when she left on a reporting trip to Mongolia, Ariel Levy thought she had figured it out: she was married, pregnant, successful on her own terms, financially secure. A month later, none of that was true. 'People have been telling me since I was a little girl that I was too fervent, too forceful, too much. I thought I had harnessed the power of my own strength and greed and love to a life that could contain it. But it has exploded.' In gorgeous, moving, humorous, sharp, and unforgettable prose, with pointillist portraits of a girl and then a young woman coming of age, Levy describes her own ill-fated assumptions: thinking that anything is possible, that the old rules do not apply; that marriage doesn't have to mean monogamy; that gender and sexuality are fluid; that aging doesn't have to mean infertility. This is a searing story, written with humor, brilliance, and insight, that is at once personal and universal--a story about realizing that life is so often beyond our control, and how we forge ahead despite that. In telling her own story, Levy has captured a portrait of our time, of the shifting forces in values, women and gender in American culture, of what has changed and what has remained"--

Review by Publisher Summary 5

NEW YORK TIMES BESTSELLER •  “This Year’s Must-Read Memoir” (W magazine) about the choices a young woman makes in her search for adventure, meaning, and loveNAMED ONE OF THE BEST BOOKS OF THE YEAR BYVogue • Time • Esquire • Entertainment Weekly • The Guardian • Harper’s Bazaar • Library Journal • NPR  All her life, Ariel Levy was told that she was too fervent, too forceful, too much. As a young woman, she decided that becoming a writer would perfectly channel her strength and desire. She would be a professional explorer—“the kind of woman who is free to do whatever she chooses.” Levy moved to Manhattan to pursue her dream, and spent years of adventure, traveling all over the world writing stories about unconventional heroines, following their fearless examples in her own life. But when she experiences unthinkable heartbreak, Levy is forced to surrender her illusion of control. In telling her story, Levy has captured a portrait of our time, of the shifting forces in American culture, of what has changed and what has remained. And of how to begin again.Praise for The Rules Do Not Apply“Unflinching and intimate, wrenching and revelatory, Ariel Levy’s powerful memoir about love, loss, and finding one’s way shimmers with truth and heart on every page.”—Cheryl Strayed“Every deep feeling a human is capable of will be shaken loose by this profound book. Ariel Levy has taken grief and made art out of it.”—David Sedaris “Beautifully crafted . . . This book is haunting; it is smart and engaging. It was so engrossing that I read it in a day.”—The New York Times Book Review“Levy’s wise and poignant memoir is the voice of a new generation of women, full of grit, pathos, truth, and inspiration. Being in her presence is energizing and ennobling. Reading her deep little book is inspiring.”—San Francisco Book Review“Levy has the rare gift of seeing herself with fierce, unforgiving clarity. And she deploys prose to match, raw and agile. She plumbs the commotion deep within and takes the measure of her have-it-all generation.”—The Atlantic“Cheryl Strayed meets a Nora Ephron movie. You’ll laugh, ugly cry, and finish it before the weekend’s over.”—theSkimm