Synopses & Reviews
Ann Patchett and the late 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. In Grealy's critically acclaimed memoir, Autobiography of a Face
, she wrote about losing part of her jaw to childhood cancer, years of chemotherapy and radiation, and endless reconstructive surgeries. In Truth & Beauty
, the story isn't Lucys 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 winters of the Midwest, to surgical wards, to book parties in New York. Through love, fame, drugs, and despair, this is what it means to be part of two lives that are intertwined... and what happens when one is left behind.
This is a tender, brutal book about loving the person we cannot save. It is about loyalty, and 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
"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
"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
"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
About the Author
Ann Patchett is the author of five novels: the New York Times bestselling Run; The Patron Saint of Liars, which was a New York Times Notable Book of the Year; Taft, which won the Janet Heidinger Kafka Prize; The Magician's Assistant; and Bel Canto, which won the PEN/Faulkner Award, the Orange Prize, the BookSense Book of the Year, and was a finalist for the National Book Critics Circle Award. She is also the author of two works of nonfiction: the New York Times bestselling Truth & Beauty and What now? Patchett has written for many publications, including the Atlantic Monthly, Harper's Magazine, Gourmet, the New York Times, Vogue, and the Washington Post. She lives in Nashville, Tennessee.