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Autobiography of a Face

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Autobiography of a Face Cover

ISBN13: 9780060569662
ISBN10: 0060569662
Condition: Standard
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Staff Pick

I read this during a formative period when I was not a teenager anymore but not quite an adult. It was perfect timing. All of my foibles and insecurities were obliterated with this poignant memoir of a girl who has a rare type of bone cancer in her jaw and undergoes surgery and later reconstructive surgery all through her teens and 20s. Written as fiction but based on Lucy Grealy's real experiences, it destroys all your own personal vanities and superficial anxieties.
Recommended by Morgan R., Powells.com

Synopses & Reviews

Publisher Comments:

"I spent five years of my life being treated for cancer, but since then I've spent fifteen years being treated for nothing other than looking different from everyone else. It was the pain from that, from feeling ugly, that I always viewed as the great tragedy of my life. The fact that I had cancer seemed minor in comparison."

At age nine, Lucy Grealy was diagnosed with a potentially terminal cancer. When she returned to school with a third of her jaw removed, she faced the cruel taunts of classmates. In this strikingly candid memoir, Grealy tells her story of great suffering and remarkable strength without sentimentality and with considerable wit. Vividly portraying the pain of peer rejection and the guilty pleasures of wanting to be special, Grealy captures with unique insight what it is like as a child and young adult to be torn between two warring impulses: to feel that more than anything else we want to be loved for who we are, while wishing desperately and secretly to be perfect.

Review:

"In this elegant, unsparing memoir, poet Lucy Grealy quietly discusses the psychological repercussions of her bout with bone cancer. Stricken at the age of nine, Grealy endured years of chemotherapy and the removal of almost half her jaw. The undeniable pressure her condition placed on her family made her feel obscurely responsible for her own illness. Yet upon recovering, she found that coming of age with her face disfigured and further misshapen by the uneven results of reconstructive surgery proved to be perhaps more painful. The taunts of her schoolmates and the haplessness of adults who avoided her gaze prompted Grealy's increasing sense of isolation. Yet ultimately what is most memorable is not the author's abjection but her remarkable resilience, expressed in unsentimental, tautly controlled prose." Reviewed by Andrew Witmer, Virginia Quarterly Review (Copyright 2006 Virginia Quarterly Review)

Review:

"Grealy has turned her misfortune into a book that is engaging and engrossing, a story of grace as well as cruelty." Washington Post Book World

Review:

"This is a young woman's first book, the story of her own life, and both book and life are unforgettable." A.G. Mojtabai, The New York Times Book Review

Review:

"[H]arrowing, lyrical....[Grealy's] discovery that true beauty lies within makes this a wise and healing book." Publishers Weekly

Review:

"[A] book you want to hand to people saying only, 'Read it.'...It's no surprise Grealy is a tremendously powerful writer: she saved her own life by telling herself stories to live by. Now she'll change our lives by sharing them." Donna Seaman, Booklist

Review:

"[G]racefully written....An unsentimental, honest, unflinching look at a single visage reflected (or distorted) in an unforgiving cultural mirror. A strong debut." Kirkus Reviews

Review:

"This lucid and elegant memoir traces one woman's journey toward a self defined internally rather than by its reflection in society's mirrors." Anndee Hochman, Philadelphia Inquirer

Review:

"A beautifully composed work of literature... Autobiography of a Face is also a moving meditation on ugliness and beauty, of particular significance in a culture obsessed with the outward self." Joyce Carol Oates, New York Times Book Review

About the Author

Lucy Grealy, an award-winning poet, was born in Ireland in 1963. She lived in the UK and in Germany but spent most of her life in New York, where she grew up, and where she died in 2002. She also published a collection of essays, As Seen on TV: Provocations.

Table of Contents

Prologue 1
1 Luck 14
2 Petting Zoo 29
3 The Tao of Laugh-In 53
4 Fear Itself 69
5 Life on Earth 88
6 Door Number Two 103
7 Masks 118
8 Truth and Beauty 140
9 World of Unknowing 160
10 The Habits of Self-Conciousness 176
11 Cool 191
12 Mirrors 205
Acknowledgments 225
Afterword 227

What Our Readers Are Saying

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Average customer rating based on 1 comment:

crowyhead, August 22, 2006 (view all comments by crowyhead)
I actually started this last year, put it down, and finally picked it up and finished it this week. This is a moving and candid memoir that's not so much about surviving cancer, as about surviving surviving cancer. Lucy Grealy had Ewing's Sarcoma as a child, and treatment required the removal of a third of her jaw. What followed was fifteen years of painful cosmetic surgical procedures. Lucy found herself constantly torn between wanting to accept herself and be accepted as she was, and the desire to be normal, even beautiful.
Maybe it's not fair, but the impact of this memoir was lessened somewhat for me because Grealy committed suicide in 2002. The book ends on a hopeful note, but I ended up feeling depressed because I felt like Grealy ultimately gave up... I may read Anne Padgett's Truth and Beauty, which is about her friendship with Lucy Grealy. Maybe it would help me understand her better.
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Product Details

ISBN:
9780060569662
Afterword by:
Patchett, Ann
Publisher:
Harper Perennial
Author:
Grealy, Lucy
Author:
by Lucy Grealy
Afterword by:
Patchett, Ann
Afterword:
Patchett, Ann
Location:
New York
Subject:
Diseases - Cancer
Subject:
Disfigured persons.
Subject:
Ewing's sarcoma
Subject:
Personal Memoirs
Subject:
Specific Groups - General
Subject:
General Biography
Subject:
United states
Subject:
Patients
Subject:
Grealy, Lucy
Subject:
Ewing's sarcoma - Patients - United States
Subject:
Biography - General
Subject:
Health and Medicine-Cancer
Copyright:
Edition Number:
1st Perennial ed.
Edition Description:
Trade PB
Series Volume:
no. 03-1
Publication Date:
March 18, 2003
Binding:
Paperback
Grade Level:
General/trade
Language:
English
Pages:
256
Dimensions:
8.12x5.32x.60 in. .44 lbs.

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Related Subjects

Biography » General
Biography » Medical
Biography » Women
Fiction and Poetry » Literature » A to Z
Health and Self-Help » Health and Medicine » Cancer
Health and Self-Help » Health and Medicine » Medical Biographies

Autobiography of a Face Used Trade Paper
0 stars - 0 reviews
$8.95 In Stock
Product details 256 pages Perennial - English 9780060569662 Reviews:
"Staff Pick" by ,

I read this during a formative period when I was not a teenager anymore but not quite an adult. It was perfect timing. All of my foibles and insecurities were obliterated with this poignant memoir of a girl who has a rare type of bone cancer in her jaw and undergoes surgery and later reconstructive surgery all through her teens and 20s. Written as fiction but based on Lucy Grealy's real experiences, it destroys all your own personal vanities and superficial anxieties.

"Review" by , "Grealy has turned her misfortune into a book that is engaging and engrossing, a story of grace as well as cruelty."
"Review" by , "This is a young woman's first book, the story of her own life, and both book and life are unforgettable."
"Review" by , "[H]arrowing, lyrical....[Grealy's] discovery that true beauty lies within makes this a wise and healing book."
"Review" by , "[A] book you want to hand to people saying only, 'Read it.'...It's no surprise Grealy is a tremendously powerful writer: she saved her own life by telling herself stories to live by. Now she'll change our lives by sharing them."
"Review" by , "[G]racefully written....An unsentimental, honest, unflinching look at a single visage reflected (or distorted) in an unforgiving cultural mirror. A strong debut."
"Review" by , "This lucid and elegant memoir traces one woman's journey toward a self defined internally rather than by its reflection in society's mirrors."
"Review" by , "A beautifully composed work of literature... Autobiography of a Face is also a moving meditation on ugliness and beauty, of particular significance in a culture obsessed with the outward self."
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