An Abbreviated Life Ariel Leve
An Amazon Best Book of the Month
Featured on NPR Weekend Edition
“Sometimes, a child is born to a parent who can’t be a parent, and, like a seedling in the shade, has to grow toward a distant sun. Ariel Leve’s spare and powerful memoir will remind us that family isn’t everything -- kindness and nurturing are.” —Gloria Steinem
“The staccato style of this searing memoir enhances the harshness and emotional power of what is a frightening story by a brave author, who resolutely describes herself as ‘a long-distance runner through the canyon of childhood’—a modest understatement. An unstinting portrayal of psychological abuse, both insightful and precisely told.” —John Irving
“An Abbreviated Life adds a harrowing chapter to the great tragi-comedy called “We Don’t Get To Choose Our Parents.” Ariel Leve’s extremely readable memoir is, at its heart, a story about surviving childhood—a trick we must all perform. Even in its raw extremes, her story is a universal one.” —Richard Ford
In this extraordinary memoir, Ariel Leve takes us through the looking glass into the life of an only child growing up under siege. The unconventional world Ariel inhabited was dominated by her mother, a gifted but unstable poet without boundaries or self-restraint. Mother and daughter lived in a penthouse on Manhattan’s Upper East Side, which was the setting for raucous parties that attracted New York’s cultural and intellectual elite: Gloria Steinem, Norman Mailer, and Andy Warhol, to name a few. For all its glamor, this was a universe that was neither predictable nor safe.
With her beloved father living in Southeast Asia and the death of a nurturing caretaker, young Ariel was left to navigate an emotionally perilous landscape alone. It took four decades before she was able to make sense of the aftershocks of childhood, which eventually necessitated a voyage in secret to the other side of the world. Unflinchingly, and with ferocious candor, Leve trains her writer’s eye on the harrowing circumstances of her life with (and without) her mother, and transforms the chaos into art.
In stripped down, elegant prose, Leve paints an indelible portrait of her upbringing and the long fight to tunnel her way out of the darkness. The drama of her journey proves to be as exhilarating as it is painful and, ultimately, emancipating. An Abbreviated Life heralds the arrival of a fearless new voice in the literary firmament.
Ariel Leve is an award-winning journalist who has written for Esquire, the Guardian, Financial Times Magazine, the Telegraph, the Observer, and the London Sunday Times Magazine, where she was a senior writer and a columnist. At the British Press Awards she was short-listed twice for Interviewer of the Year and Highly Commended twice. She is the author of the collection It Could Be Worse You Could Be Me, and co-author with Robin Morgan of 1963: The Year of the Revolution.
Published by HarperCollins in 2016.