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In this powerful and provocative new memoir award winning author Lauren Slater forces readers to redraw the boundary between what we know as fact and what we believe through the creation of our own personal fictions Mixing memoir with mendacity Slater examines memories of her youth when after being diagnosed with a strange illness she developed seizures and neurological disturbances—and the compulsion to lie Openly uestioning the reliability of memoir itself Slater presents the mesmerizing story of a young woman who discovers not only what plagues her but also what cures her—the birth of her sensuality her creativity as an artist and storytelling as an act of healing

10 thoughts on “Lying A Metaphorical Memoir

  1. says:

    I absolutely hated this book But I might be lying when I say I hated this book Because sometimes a lie is true and sometimes a lie is just a flat out lie Sometimes a lie is liminal and sneaky a covert sort of veracity a very Heideggerian truth a Stephen Colbert truthiness sort of truth It is a parlor trick predicated on a delicate tissue of confabulations and exaggerations Oh and did I mention the fact that I am a former supermodel? This may or may not be true But I feel as if I may have been a supermodel so in a larger metaphorical sense I very well may have been a supermodel There you go

  2. says:

    Uninteresting LiesSlater is controversial for her mixture of truth and fiction this book is a memoir about her epilepsy but apparently she did not have epilepsy; in another book she has written novelized histories of actual psychological experiments She also presents herself as a liar saying at first it is a typical symptom of epilepsy but then when it emerges that she may not have been an epileptic the lying becomes a narrative strategy for getting at underlying truthsSlater has been reviewed and discussed widely but mainly outside literary circles I can think of several reasons why she hasn't been reviewed as a serious fiction writer1 Her strategy of lying is only controversial if the books are read as nonfiction or as historical scholarship The blending of fiction and nonfiction to get to the heart of things p 219; cp p 192 is not controversial in the domain of writing What novel isn't about narrative truth? What memoir isn't entwined with fiction? What history isn't narrated? What story isn't a lie? Slater's book is peppered with undergraduate style allusions to postmodernism Heidegger and others as justifications for what she's doing but the very presence of those gestures shows how far she is from literary practice There are no references to Barth Barthelme Auster Angela Carter Muriel Spark and others who have asked the same uestions Not to mention Ali Smith wonder if Slater has seen her speech at ?2 Her writing lacks nuance It's black and white and the emotions and scenes are sensationalist In one episode her mother berates a hotel pianist for having heavy hands and he asks her to sit down and play in his place Everyone watches as the narrator's mother sits at the piano with a great flourish and then realizes she actually can't play anything except rudimentary melodies Her mother then retreats in silence The next line in the book informs us that Slater had her first epileptic fit that night There are few scenes in the book that end ambiguously Slater doesn't evoke or suggest she dramatizes The emotional temperature is on high from the first page to the last3 She isn't especially reflective even about ideas that are central to the book There are a couple of pages in which deeper concerns are voiced but they pass by uickly In one scene her doctor is interested to learn that she has become interested in religious issues She gets annoyed at being compared to Saint Teresa and others because that would mean that her illness was creating her interest Is religion itself a symptom? she asks Look the doctor answers it's no an eitheror thing Who knows maybe the disease is God's way of reaching certain people p 201 His thoughts and her reactions go to the heart of difficult issues about faith and mental states and they should be central for Slater but she has nothing else to say about them It's almost as if Slater can't keep her mind on the problem Perhaps it would be better if she wrote about just one day preferably an uneventful day and her attempts to understand it It's clear she has been struggling to understand her life and it is a sign of her distress that what counts as understanding a problem is usually coming to a workable solution Often I think that's what she has needed But it's not what readers need unless of course they are reading her books as self help manuals in which case they will be annoyed as they often have been by her so called lying A deeper interesting lie is the one that presents this book as reflective fiction

  3. says:

    Come with me reader I am toying with you yes but for a real reason I am asking you to enter the confusion with me to give up the ground with me because sometimes that frightening floaty place is really the truest of all Kierkegaard says The greatest lie of all is the feeling of firmness beneath our feet We are at our most when we are lost Enter that lostness with me Live in the place I am where the view is murky where the connecting bridges and orienting maps have been surgically stripped away Together we will journey We are disoriented and all we ever really want is a hand to hold I am so happy you are holding me in your hands I am sitting far aways from you but when you turn the pages I feel a flutter in me and wings rise up 163HOLY COW LAUREN SLATER What did I just read? I admit that this has been a book that I have been waiting to read since my professor discussed it in my autobiographymemoir class Thanks Dr Funda for taking me to school even during the summer time I don't know what is fact or fiction any but that was probably the point This is Slater's memoir on living with epilepsy Munchausen's kleptomania perhaps even schizophreniaor perhaps she doesn't have any of those She is upfront that she is lying but also that she is weaving the truth of HER reality I think that the only TRUTH I could pull from this is Slater is an amazing writer She's a poet and pulls you in and out of her narrative multiple times You take her hand and follow her down the rabbit hole and then once you find yourself comfortable she pulls you back out and tells you Just kidding That didn't really happen And I loved it The only thing I struggled with in this book was her story of her affair with a married man It was uncomfortable at times but now that I'm typing this outit is a real possibility that it didn't actually happen O gersh I'll be thinking about this one for awhilebook hangover here I come I read a book by William James and like any good book it did not teach me something new but drew out the wisdom that was already there inside me William talks about there being two kinds of will Will A and Will B I call it Will A is what we all learn the hold your head high stuff it down swallow your sobs work hard kind of will Will B while it seems a slacker thing is actually harder to have It's a willingness instead of a willfulness an ability to take life on life's terms as opposed to putting up a big fight It's about being bendable not brittle a person who is brave enough to try to ride the waves instead of trying to stop them Will B is what you need in order to learn to fall It's the kind of will my mother never taught me and yours probably never taught you either It's a secret greater than sex; it's a spiritual thing Will B is not passive It means an active acceptance a say yes and you have to have a voice and courage if you want to learn it If you know Will B you know your life 53 Erika's Link

  4. says:

    Okay Perspectives change sometimes This is my 2nd reading Twenty years apart Things change People? Not so much but hopefully we get wiser? Anyway from 3 stars to fiveLying is a thing people do It has been a subject and action central to my understanding of communication between and within persons nearly all my life Because of reasons not pertinent to this reviewLying 2000is a memoir by Lauren Slater published twenty years ago when she was 37 It's a beautiful fascinating story I first read it right after it came out along with her previous memoir Prozac diary 1998 Ironically it's probably as close to honest as any book ever Especially memoirs and biographies In it she confesses to exaggeration and plain fabrication However in my opinion she's being honest Far than mostLying In Waitis an essay Slater wrote for TIME June 2229 2020 concerning the current COVID 19 pandemic we all find ourselves like it or not affected byTogetherthey make for a fascinating study of the human condition From at least the last six decades or from the early 60's to the present Albeit from the prospective of a complex white female American smart well educated and very cleverSlaterwas diagnosed at age ten with epilepsy Subseuently she's been diagnosed as having a borderline personality disorder post traumatic stress disorder and as bipolar Munchausen's OCD depression and once even as autism Autism pg 220 LyingIn Lying the author I think correctly takes down or maybe just throws shade on the Fields of Publishingwriting Education Health care and for sure if not a Field certainly something all of us have experienced parentingShe had a narcissistic read bad mother uestionable read fashionable medical care and an exploitive read sexually abusive mentor All during her formative years read before age eighteen and yet managed to spin that into a lucrative professional writing career and an 80 acre farm She attributes this to a school she was sent to at age thirteen to learn how to fall And yet she's still complaining Or maybe just worried and sad Something she's been most all her lifeBeing Aloneand isolated Slater says she is now than ever Because of the government ordered shutdown and social distancing She's lost control We all have to greater or lesser extents However some cope better than othersExpectationsare related to happiness A balance between one's expectations and realistic outcomes is said by some Psychologists to include my psych girl to be the best prescription for happiness An imbalance or unrealistic expectations can lead one to all sorts of maladaptive states ie trouble With a capital T In other words physical psychological andor emotional painPainhurts And that leads one to seek relief Relief comes in many different forms Such as lying Along with drinking drugs exercise work sex religion cults anger rage abuse etc and so on Said another way war within and war without There is just no escapeLying Workslest we all wouldn't do it To one extent or anotherI don't like it; but am trying to get better at it on advice from my healthcare provider

  5. says:

    This was a tricky book to read because the authornarrator tells you right off the bat that maaaaaaybe she made some things up and maaaaaybe she didn't Which is I guess the truth about most memoirs but Slater likes to remind you now and then that what you just read might have only happened in her mind Very tricksy but not as off putting as it might sound This self consciousness comes off less as po mo defense tactics than honest representation because central to the memoir is her seizure disorder which though a physiological condition can deep affect perception and psychology If you just let her tell the story the way she wants you still perhaps better access her feelings her insecurities her personal truths So in a way it's a memoir about memoir writing I keep defending it because it is geniunely interesting but sometimes it makes me batty trying to decide if it was freshman bs or genius

  6. says:

    Slater is an excellent writer I liked the play between fact and fiction and her central theme that one can get to the essence of truth through fiction especially when a ficticious situation is used as an extended metaphor as opposed to fact I enjoyed the first uarter of the book After that it devolved into narcissism and she belabors the Am I lying? Am I not? Does it matter? game that she plays with her reader She claims this book is about her relationship with her mom primarily and mental illness secondarily I think that is it primarily about mental illness trying to figure out what is wrong with herself epilepsy depression etc and secondarily about her complicated troublesome self loathinglove affair with herself

  7. says:

    It's difficult to describe this brilliant memoir without reducing it to a simple inadeuate description it is about illness it is about the slipperiness of what is real in memory and even in present experience It is also like many memoirs a coming of age story However it is also one of the most powerful artful memoirs I have read Slater's gorgeously crafted lines and scenes set up a world in which factuality is less important than narrative truth and then she takes this idea a step beyond the convenient manipulations so often used by memoirists to tell stories The uestion of truth vs untruth is at the core of this memoir and is necessary to the reader's understanding of Lauren's childhood and adolescence

  8. says:

    unreliable narrators are the best

  9. says:

    I've read and liked at least one and probably two of Lauren Slater's other books Lying A Metaphorical Memoir? Not as much although I very much like the ideas behind it and would like it as an essay I'm not sure if this is her book being stylistically different or me having different preferencesSlater's memoir is a lie – and it is truthful Does she have epilepsy which was partially cured by a corpus callostomy? Was she faking her seizures if they even happened? Does it matter? Slater argues that it doesn't This book is a metaphor Alcoholism can stand in for epilepsy the same way epilepsy can stand in for depression for disintegration for self hatred for the unspeakable dirt between a mother and a daughter; sometimes you just don’t know how to say the pain directly— I do not know how to say the pain directly I never have— and I often tell myself it really doesn’t matter because either way any way the brain shivers and craves cracked open pp 203 204 I'm less sure that it doesn't matter what is true even though I believe that our stories matter than the actual facts That your mother died tells me very little but that you have told me a particular story about your mother's death tells me a whole lotAnd yet reading Lying tells me that it is important – to me – to situate the story in some context something like the facts If you tell me that your mother never loved you – while all the evidence points elsewhere that says something right?What Slater's story tells me in brief is that she felt broken and believed she would be whole if she received attention and was accepted by others that she repeatedly sought attention often being hurt in the process but ultimately healed herself in a warm and supportive group where people knew her truth even if they didn't know the Truth Her story is one of wanting to be seen while hiding and dissemblingPerhaps my favorite part of Lying is her descriptions of coping with stressors One can stand strong or fall Standing strong is what we all learn the hold your head high stuff it down swallow your sobs work hard kind of will This second kind of will Will B while it seems a slacker thing is actually harder to have It’s a willingness instead of a willfulness an ability to take life on life’s terms as opposed to putting up a big fight It’s about being bendable not brittle a person who is brave enough to try to ride the waves instead of trying to stop them Will B is what you need in order to learn to fall It’s the kind of will my mother never taught me and yours probably never taught you either It’s a secret greater than sex; it’s a spiritual thing Will B is not passive It means an active acceptance a say yes and you have to have a voice and courage if you want to learn it p 53 The truth or one part of it might be that Slater was raised by wolves damaged and not given the skills to handle the stressors she faced in life Adults failed her yet ultimately as she approached adulthood she saved herself

  10. says:

    Homework response November 7th 2011Lauren Slater is trying to challenge the reader's concepts of reality and truth in her book Lying A Metaphorical Memoir The idea of the story potentially being false is first presented in the introduction which is written by a fictional psychologist I think it is interesting that she included this because if she hadn't the reveal of her potential lie about epilepsy would have come gradual The first place where she admits to adding something to the story was in chapter three when she embellishes the story by falling into the grave and then uickly confesses that that did not literally happen I liked how she goes on from there to gradually make us uestion sections of the narrative such as the paper that may or may not have been written by her neurologist and culminating with her even implying that she might have been lying about epilepsy this whole time However I felt like the introduction might have undercut this accumulation by being too open about the possibility of the epilepsy being false Perhaps she felt it was necessary to prevent people from trusting the narrator too much in the beginning since she does say that when she handed the draft to strangers they took it too literallyIn true postmodern from she includes different types of narrative in this book which I enjoyed These include the introduction by the fictional psychologist Hayward Krieger the paper which may or may not have been written by her neurologist Dr Neu and the letter she addressed to her publisher on how to market this book Each of these sections serve to uestion the nature to truth in the narrative I already talked about the introduction and touched on the Dr Neu letter The letter she addressed to her publisher lays out some of her intentions in writing this book including the purposeful ambiguity She includes three ways that the book can be read without hinting at which one is literally true Also she points out that she is not a fact and that metaphor can reveal character that fact cannot At the end of the letter she is almost pleading with the publisher to publish it as nonfiction which is similar to how she pleads with the reader in the last chapterThis plead on her readers comes tied in the with AA members who think Lauren is in denial of her alcoholism I was intrigued by Sandy's analysis that they portrayed that way to show that were unable to see any truth other than their own Elaine says “Denial always kicks in when we get too close to the truth” implying that they view the truth as absolute and objective She swiftly turns from the AA retreat to addressing the reader both denying that she had epilepsy and begging us to believe that she does have epilepsy