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Big Books Reviews

Autobiography of a Face

Big Books Issue 2001

Next of Kin Rick Bragg Gives His Family Tree Another Shake in Ava's Man | By Frank Diller

Speak, Memory Bashed By Oprah and Other Tales From the Memoir Trade | By Wendy Ward

The Little Girls Understand . . . Perhaps little girls are behind the popularity of memoirs. Long before the American Girls books, bef...

First Persons A Sampling of the Best Modern Memoirs

I'm With the Band: Confessions of a Groupie Better than the recent ego-stoked memoirs of the musicians she aspired to, uhh, know, "Miss Pamela"'... | By Stacey Mink

Goodbye to All That First published in 1929, this memoir by the poet and novelist (I, Claudius) remains the most immedia... | By Mahinder Kingra

Autobiography of a Face Poet Lucy Grealy survived cancer and wrote a book about it, like other fortunate hundreds before and... | By Lee Gardner

Tell My Horse: Voodoo and Life in Haiti and Jamaica Though dirt poor and living in total obscurity when she died in 1960, Zora Neale Hurston had spent d... | By Afefe Tyehimba

An Unquiet Mind: A Memoir of Moods and Madness Kay Redfield Jamison undertook to write about her personal experiences with manic depression after s... | By Eileen Murphy

Survival in Auschwitz: The Nazi Assault on Humanity Primo Levi's memoir of his 10 months in Auschwitz is a masterpiece of Holocaust literature--not simp... | By Sandy Asirvatham

Harpo Speaks! Whether Harpo Marx's 1961 autobiography qualifies as a memoir is open to question, given that there'... | By Adele Marley

Angela's Ashes: A Memoir Frank McCourt was born in Brooklyn in 1930, but his parents reversed the usual Irish-American immigr... | By Heather Joslyn

Darkness Visible: A Memoir of Madness At the start of this Memoir of Madness, novelist William Styron is about to receive the prestigious ... | By Eileen Murphy

My Own Country: A Doctor's Story Born of Indian parents and raised in Ethiopia, Abraham Verghese could hardly find a place less his o... | By Eileen Murphy

By Lee Gardner | Posted 9/26/2001

Lucy Grealy

Poet Lucy Grealy survived cancer and wrote a book about it, like other fortunate hundreds before and since. It's what happened to her as a result of her malady and how she deals with it on the page that sets her 1994 account of her illness and its aftermath apart. Grealy is unflinching in recounting her physical disfigurement, which resulted from doctors removing a third of her jaw when she was 9 years old, and she's equally vivid in describing the accompanying psychic wounds. Yet this is not a self-pitying book. Grealy's measured, forceful prose guides the reader through an unimaginable scenario--almost literally, a loss of face--and articulates how she manages to find a way to live in the world with her new appearance and identity. If it was a novel, you'd throw it across the room, but this clear-eyed account is definitely a keeper.

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