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Love and Trouble: A Midlife Reckoning (Hardcover)
Some of us may relate directly to the events of this memoir, others may not, but all of us can relate to the urgent need, first expressed by Plato, to live an “examined life.” No one does this better than Claire Dederer. In a unique essay format, loaded with both sensitivity and humor, Claire reflects on her sexually promiscuous youth and the profound, sudden and shocking sexual urges that have returned to her that confuse and threaten her carefully crafted role as a modern devoted mother and wife. Read it for the brilliant writing, or for the storytelling. This is a brave undertaking in every respect, and so well done.— From Jane
From the New York Times best-selling author of Poser: My Life in Twenty-Three Yoga Poses, a ferocious, sexy, hilarious memoir about going off the rails at midlife and trying to reconcile the girl she was with the woman she has become.
Claire Dederer is a happily married mother of two, ages nine and twelve, when she suddenly finds herself totally despondent and, simultaneously, suffering through a kind of erotic reawakening. This exuberant memoir shifts between her present experience as a middle-aged mom in the grip of mysterious new hungers and herself as a teenager--when she last experienced life with such heightened sensitivity and longing. From her hilarious chapter titles ("How to Have Sex with Your Husband of Seventeen Years") to her subjects--from the boyfriend she dumped at fourteen the moment she learned how to give herself an orgasm, to the girls who ruled her elite private school ("when I left Oberlin I thought I had done with them forever, but it turned out ...they also edited all the newspapers and magazines, and wrote all the books"), to raising a teenage daughter herself--Dederer writes with an electrifying blend of wry wit and raw honesty. She exposes herself utterly, and in doing so captures something universal about the experience of being a woman, a daughter, a wife.
About the Author
CLAIRE DEDERER is the author of the New York Times best-selling memoir Poser: My Life in Twenty-Three Yoga Poses, which has been translated into twelve languages, and which Elizabeth Gilbert called "the book we all need." A book critic, essayist, and reporter, Dederer is a longtime contributor to The New York Times and has also written for The Atlantic, Vogue, Slate, The Nation, and New York magazine, among other publications. She lives on an island near Seattle with her family.
Praise for Love and Trouble
“Love and Trouble is the most surprising and subversive memoir I’ve read in years. Come for what you think is a standard mid-life crisis story. Stay for the luminous, gritty map of Seattle in the eighties and nineties; the perfectly recalled angst of adolescence; the dark midnights of men and whiskey; the intelligent meditations on women, their vulnerability and sexuality. Put the book down with gratitude for the Claire Dederer’s unshrinking honesty and mastery of her material.”
“In equal parts hilarious and haunting, Love and Trouble captures the ways in which our past selves are never really past. In loose, edgy, confident prose, Claire Dederer peels back layer after layer of herself as an erotic creature, and in so doing has crafted a book that grabs the reader in an utterly visceral way. This is an exciting, daring memoir.”
“Love and Trouble is a welcome deep dive into Claire Dederer’s girl self and grown self, and the way the two have overlapped and pulled apart over time. This knowing and original memoir abounds with intelligence, wit, earned nostalgia, and an impressive degree of understanding about no less than being female and becoming a person.”
“Love and Trouble is unlike any memoir I’ve ever read: formally inventive and wise, have-to-put-the-book-down funny yet somehow tinged with grief. And the sentences! They simply sing. I’ve never thought so deeply, or in so many different modes, about my own sexuality, femininity, and motherhood. Though I don’t mean to suggest that this is a book just for women—I kept reading passages aloud to my husband, as a way of asking him to understand something essential about me, and about himself, and about marriage in general. I began reading Love and Trouble thinking Dederer was writing about herself; halfway through I decided she was writing about me. By the time I finished I realized she’d written to me, and to my daughters—to all of us.”
“When I got my hands on Claire Dederer's new book, I instantly turned off my phone, cancelled all my appointments, curled up in bed, and read all day in grateful — and thoughtful — abandon. As always, I was delighted with what I found in her writing. Dederer is not only a brilliant author, but an honest and brave one, who is not afraid to deep-dive into her own history and her own heart in order to examine what it really means to be a woman right now. Love and Trouble is a book caused me to think differently about marriage, about intimacy, about middle-age, and especially about what it means to have once been a sexually adventurous teenage girl. I saw myself all over these pages, and a think a lot of other readers will, as well.”
"Claire Dederer, in a ferociously honest new memoir, “Love and Trouble: A Midlife Reckoning,” walks this minefield. Most shocking of all, she does it with bracing humor...This is an unflinching exploration... She is a delightfully mordant companion. You could ask for no better guide to the center of yourself."
What emerges, in the course of this vivid, hilarious, daring self-portrait of a book, is a person who has achieved clarity about her own contradictions, or at least has figured out how to use those contradictions as an excuse to bring lively writing into the world. Told from changing points of view, the memoir is practically a master class in narrative technique... The world is troubling, yes, but this narrator's intelligence, her curiosity about the ambivalence that defines interiority, and the unique light cast by her experiences growing up in Seattle the 1970s and '80s yield insight and laughs on every page."
“Dederer is unstintingly honest and unafraid as she excavates her motivations and res-ervations, her fantasies, and the implications of the choices she has made—and those she has yet to make. Insightful, provocative, and fearlessly frank, Dederer seduces readers with her warmth, wit, and wisdom.”
—Kirkus Reviews (Starred Review)
"Edgy, frank, and outright hilarious...This candid memoir will resonate with women (and quite possibly men) of all ages, but particularly those in midlife. Dederer brings a startling intimacy and immediacy to her version of growing up female in America."
"Her elegantly structured, expansive, and unapologetic account captures the sense of one woman's self about as honestly as it is possible to do on a page... Dederer's memoir speaks eloquently to questions all women have."
—Library Journal (starred review)