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Truth and Beauty: A Friendship

by

Truth and Beauty: A Friendship Cover

 

Awards

2002 Orange Prize For Fiction

Staff Pick

Patchett's eloquent prose gives a vivid portrait of the friendship that she and Lucy Grealy shared. I applaud Patchett's honesty and her refusal to gloss over the difficulties of their friendship. When I found out that Lucy Grealy had died, I was stunned and saddened. She was so full of genius and passionate beauty. I am grateful Patchett chose to give the world this book.
Recommended by Mary Jo, Powells.com

Synopses & Reviews

Publisher Comments:

What happens when the person who is your family is someone you aren't bound to by blood? What happens when the person you promise to love and to honor for the rest of your life is not your lover, but your best friend? In Truth & Beauty, her frank and startlingly intimate first work of nonfiction, Ann Patchett shines a fresh, revealing light on the world of women's friendships and shows us what it means to stand together.

Ann Patchett and Lucy Grealy met in college in 1981, and, after enrolling in the Iowa Writers' Workshop, began a friendship that would be as defining to both of their lives as their work was. In her critically acclaimed and hugely successful memoir, Autobiography of a Face, Lucy Grealy wrote about losing part of her jaw to childhood cancer, the years of chemotherapy and radiation, and then the endless reconstructive surgeries. In Truth & Beauty, the story isn't Lucy's life or Ann's life, but the parts of their lives they shared. This is a portrait of unwavering commitment that spans twenty years, from the long, cold winters of the Midwest, to surgical wards, to book parties in New York. Through love, fame, drugs, and despair, this book shows us what it means to be part of two lives that are intertwined.

This is a tender, brutal book about loving a person we cannot save. It is about loyalty, and about being lifted up by the sheer effervescence of someone who knew how to live life to the fullest.

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 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." Publishers Weekly (Copyright 2004 Reed Business Information, Inc.)

Review:

"A tough and loving tribute, hard to put down, impossible to forget." Kirkus Reviews

Review:

"Dazzling in its psychological interpretations...candid in its self-portraiture, and gracefully balanced between emotion and reason...an utterly involving and cathartic elegy that speaks to everyone who would do anything for their soul mate." Booklist

Review:

"A harrowing document, composed in a spare, forthright style? Grealy's letters glow with the energy of a quirkily original voice?.The juxtaposing of these very different voices makes the memoir an inspired duet." Joyce Carol Oates, The New York Times Book Review

Review:

"To say that Truth and Beauty is a memoir about [a] friendship, while true, doesn't begin to do justice to the extraordinary bond the two writers shared or Patchett's refined reflection upon it." Sarah Gianelli, The Oregonian

About the Author

Ann Patchett was born in Los Angeles in 1963, the youngest daughter of her nurse mother and police officer father.

While attending Sarah Lawrence College, Patchett took fiction writing classes with Alan Gurganus, Russell Banks, and Grace Paley. She sold her first story to the Paris Review, where it was published before her graduation. Patchett then went on to attend the University of Iowa Writer's Workshop.

In 1990, Patchett won a residential fellowship at the Fine Arts Work Center in Provincetown, Massachusetts. It is there that she wrote her first novel, The Patron Saint of Liars, which received a James A. Michener/ Copernicus Award for a book in progress. In 1993, she received a Bunting Fellowship from the Mary Ingrahm Bunting Institute at Radcliffe College.

Patchett's second novel, Taft,was awarded the Janet Heidinger Kafka Prize for the best work of fiction in 1994. Her third novel, The Magician's Assistant,was short-listed for England's Orange Prize and earned her a Guggenheim Fellowship in 1994. In October of the same year, just three days after the official release of The Magician's Assistant,Patchett was awarded the Nashville Banner Tennessee Writer of the Year Award.

She has also written for numerous publications, including The New York Times Magazineand Gourmet.

Ann Patchett's most recent novel, Bel Canto,won the PEN/Faulkner Award and the Orange Prize, and was a finalist for the National Book Critics Circle Award. Patchett currently lives in Nashville, Tennessee.

What Our Readers Are Saying

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Average customer rating based on 3 comments:

lissi, September 2, 2011 (view all comments by lissi)
Good book, well written about an unusual friendship.
To me, what there was of Lucy Grealy's story was compelling. I'm looking forward to reading "The Autobiography of a Face" since I've read that her writing is beautiful. But what I missed in "Truth & Beauty" was the depth of Lucy. What was it about her that made so many people care so deeply for her. I can't believe that it was just the celebrity of her story that kept her friends giving so much when, it appears from this book, that she gave so little.
Ann Patchett seems to have made herself out to be a saint without ever explaining what their friendship meant to her. I would love to hear another side to this story.
Was this comment helpful? | Yes | No
E, December 28, 2009 (view all comments by E)
Lucy Grealy's "Autobiography of a Face" about her trials with a disfiguring cancer made a strong impression on me, so it was really fascinating to see a book written about her by a friend. Anne Patchett is very honest in this beautifully written book about their sometimes very tumultous friendship.
Was this comment helpful? | Yes | No
(1 of 2 readers found this comment helpful)
Roseann, September 7, 2006 (view all comments by Roseann)
As unwavering in its honesty as Ann Patchett was in her friendship to Lucy Grealy, this loving biography of a friendship lingered with me long after I finished reading it. I was glad I'd read several of Grealy's books, including her memoir, first. She's a real human being to me now.
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(13 of 21 readers found this comment helpful)
View all 3 comments

Product Details

ISBN:
9780060572143
Subtitle:
A Friendship
Author:
Patchett, Ann
Author:
by Ann Patchett
Author:
by Ann Patchett
Publisher:
Harper
Location:
New York
Subject:
General
Subject:
Friendship
Subject:
Women
Subject:
Female friendship
Subject:
Disfigured persons.
Subject:
Ewing's sarcoma
Subject:
Personal Memoirs
Subject:
General Biography
Subject:
Biography-Women
Copyright:
Edition Number:
1st ed.
Edition Description:
Hardcover
Series Volume:
89
Publication Date:
20040511
Binding:
Hardback
Grade Level:
General/trade
Language:
English
Pages:
272
Dimensions:
8.74x6.12x.95 in. .94 lbs.

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Related Subjects

Biography » General
Fiction and Poetry » Literature » A to Z

Truth and Beauty: A Friendship Used Hardcover
0 stars - 0 reviews
$7.50 In Stock
Product details 272 pages Harper - English 9780060572143 Reviews:
"Staff Pick" by ,

Patchett's eloquent prose gives a vivid portrait of the friendship that she and Lucy Grealy shared. I applaud Patchett's honesty and her refusal to gloss over the difficulties of their friendship. When I found out that Lucy Grealy had died, I was stunned and saddened. She was so full of genius and passionate beauty. I am grateful Patchett chose to give the world this book.

"Publishers Weekly Review" by , "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 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." Publishers Weekly (Copyright 2004 Reed Business Information, Inc.)
"Review" by , "A tough and loving tribute, hard to put down, impossible to forget."
"Review" by , "Dazzling in its psychological interpretations...candid in its self-portraiture, and gracefully balanced between emotion and reason...an utterly involving and cathartic elegy that speaks to everyone who would do anything for their soul mate."
"Review" by , "A harrowing document, composed in a spare, forthright style? Grealy's letters glow with the energy of a quirkily original voice?.The juxtaposing of these very different voices makes the memoir an inspired duet."
"Review" by , "To say that Truth and Beauty is a memoir about [a] friendship, while true, doesn't begin to do justice to the extraordinary bond the two writers shared or Patchett's refined reflection upon it."
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