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Truth and Beauty: A Friendshipby Ann Patchett
2002 Orange Prize For Fiction
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.
Synopses & Reviews
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.
"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.)
"A tough and loving tribute, hard to put down, impossible to forget." Kirkus Reviews
"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
"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
"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.
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