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A stunning new book about the role of animals in our lives, by a popular and acclaimed writer From the time she is nine years old, biking to the farmland outside her suburban home, where she discovers a disquieting world of sleeping cows and a "Private Way" full of the wondrous and creepy creatures of the wild--spiders, deer, moles, chipmunks, and foxes--Lauren Slater finds in animals a refuge from her troubled life. As she matures, her attraction to animals strengthens and grows more complex and compelling even as her family is falling to pieces around her. Slater spends a summer at horse camp, where she witnesses the alternating horrific and loving behavior of her instructor toward the animals in her charge and comes to question the bond that so often develops between females and their equines. Slater's questions follow her to a foster family, her own parents no longer able to care for her. A pet raccoon, rescued from a hole in the wall, teaches her how to feel at home away from home. The two Shiba Inu puppies Slater adopts years later, against her husband's will, grow increasingly important to her as she ages and her family begins to grow. Slater's husband is a born skeptic and possesses a sternly scientific view of animals as unconscious, primitive creatures, one who insists "that an animal's worth is roughly equivalent to its edibility." As one of her dogs, Lila, goes blind and the medical bills and monthly expenses begin to pour in, he calculates the financial burden of their canine family member and finds that Lila has cost them about $60,000, not to mention the approximately 400 pounds of feces she has deposited in their yard. But when Benjamin begins to suffer from chronic pain, Lauren is convinced it is Lila's resilience and the dog's quick adaptation to her blindness that draws her husband out of his own misery and motivates him to try to adjust to his situation. Ben never becomes a true believer or a die-hard animal lover, but his story and the stories Lauren tells of her own bond with animals convince her that our connections with the furry, the four-legged, the exoskeleton-ed, or the winged may be just as priceless as our human relationships. The $60,000 Dog is Lauren Slater's intimate manifesto on the unique, invaluable, and often essential contributions animals make to our lives. As a psychologist, a reporter, an amateur naturalist, and above all an enormously gifted writer, she draws us into the stories of her passion for animals that are so much more than pets. She describes her intense love for the animals in her life without apology and argues, finally, that the works of Darwin and other evolutionary biologists prove that, when it comes to worth, animals are equal, and in some senses even superior, to human beings.From the Hardcover edition.
"The essays in this volume are powerful, plainspoken meditations on birthing, dying, and all the business in between," writes Lauren Slater in her introduction to the 2006 edition. "They reflect the best of what we, as a singular species, have to offer, which is reflection in a context of kindness. The essays tell hard-won tales wrestled sometimes from great pain." The twenty powerful essays in this volume are culled from periodicals ranging from The Sun to The New Yorker, from Crab Orchard Review to Vanity Fair. In "Missing Bellow," Scott Turow reflects on the death of an author he never met, but one who "overpowered me in a way no other writer had." Adam Gopnik confronts a different kind of death, that of his five-year-old daughter's pet fish -- a demise that churns up nothing less than "the problem of consciousness and the plotline of Hitchock's Vertigo." A pet is center stage as well in Susan Orlean's witty and compassionate saga of a successful hunt for a stolen border collie. Poe Ballantine chronicles a raw-nerved pilgrimage in search of salvation, solace, and a pretty brunette, and Laurie Abraham, in "Kinsey and Me," journeys after the man who dared to plumb the mysteries of human desire. Marjorie Williams gives a harrowing yet luminous account of her life with cancer, and Michele Morano muses on the grammar of the subjunctive mood while proving that "in language, as in life, moods are complicated, but at least in language there are only two.
Over the course of five books, psychologist Slater has taken readers through her experiences with mental illness and Prozac, her professional work with fellow sufferers, and her becoming a mother. Obviously, writing is an important aspect of her life; she now addresses her belief that writing is therapeutic and describes her use of narrative psychotherapy, a practice that allows patients to gain perspective on their problems by writing stories. Slater discovered that the best form to emulate is the fairy tale, and to demonstrate just how liberating self-generated fairy tales can be, she offers a potent set of her own tales, enchanting and disturbing stories packed with symbols and archetypal dilemmas. Here are mothers and daughters struggling with love and independence, a husband and wife in a power play, a tale about pharmaceuticals, stories about eroticism, our animal selves, mysterious ailments, and healing. Inspired and barbed, Slater's fairy tales are irresistible, great fun to read and to interpret. Donna Seaman
The author and psychologist gives us a "travelogue" of her pregnancy while struggling to keep mental illness at bay
"The beauty of Lauren Slater's prose is shocking," said Newsday about Welcome to My Country, and now, in this powerful and provocative new book, Slater brilliantly explores a mind, a body, and a life under siege. Diag-nosed as a child with a strange illness, brought up in a family given to fantasy and ambition, Lauren Slater developed seizures, auras, neurological disturbances--and an ability to lie. In Lying: A Metaphorical Memoir, Slater blends a coming-of-age story with an electrifying exploration of the nature of truth, and of whether it is ever possible to tell--or to know--the facts about a self, a human being, a life. Lying chronicles the doctors, the tests, the seizures, the family embarrassments, even as it explores a sensitive child's illness as both metaphor and a means of attention-getting--a human being's susceptibility to malady, and to storytelling as an act of healing and as part of the quest for love. This mesmerizing memoir openly questions the reliability of memoir itself, the trickiness of the mind in perceiving reality, the slippery nature of illness and diagnosis--the shifting perceptions and images of who we are and what, for God's sake, is the matter with us. In Lying, Lauren Slater forces us to redraw the boundary between what we know as fact and what we believe we create as fiction. Here a young woman discovers not only what plagues her but also what heals her--the birth of sensuality, her creativity as an artist--in a book that reaffirms how a fine writer can reveal what is common to us all in the course of telling her own unique story. About Welcome to My Country, the San Francisco Chronicle said, "Every page brims with beautifully rendered images of thoughts, feelings, emotional states." The same can be said about Lying: A Metaphorical Memoir.
In a daring literary experiment, The author/psychologist presents us with a memoir of epilepsy that might be true or might not be
Through examples of experiments by some of psychology's innovative thinkers, Slater traces the evolution of the century's most pressing concerns-free will, authoritarianism, conformity, morality.
Acclaimed author Lauren Slater ruminates on what it means to be family. Lauren Slater's rocky childhood left her cold to the idea of ever creating a family of her own, but a husband, two dogs, two children, and three houses later, she came around to the challenges, trials, and unexpected rewards of playing house. Boldly honest, these biographical pieces reveal Slater at her wittiest and most deeply personal. She describes her journey from fiercely independent young woman to wife and mother, all while coping with mental illness. She tells of a chemical fire that rekindled the flame in her ailing relationship with her husband; she reflects on her decision to have an abortion, and then later to have children despite suffering from severe depression; she examines sex, love, mastectomies, and how nannies can be intrusive while dogs become family. Beautifully written, often humorous, and always revealing, these stories scrutinize the complex questions surrounding family life, offering up sometimes uncomfortable truths.
The author of the acclaimed Welcome to My Country describes in this provocative and funny memoir the ups and downs of living on Prozac for ten years, and the strange adjustments she had to make to living "normal life." Today millions of people take Prozac, but Lauren Slater was one of the first. In this rich and beautifully written memoir, she describes what it's like to spend most of your life feeling crazy--and then to wake up one day and find yourself in the strange state of feeling well. And then to face the challenge of creating a whole new life. Once inhibited, Slater becomes spontaneous. Once terrified of maintaining a job, she accepts a teaching position and ultimately earns several degrees in psychology. Once lonely, she finds love with a man who adores her. Slater is wonderfully thoughtful and articulate about all of these changes, and also about the downside of taking Prozac: such matters as dependency, sexual dysfunction, and Prozac "poop-out." "The beauty of Lauren Slater's prose is shocking," said Newsday about Welcome to My Country, and Slater's remarkable gifts as a writer are present here in sentences that are like elegant darts, hitting at the center of the deepest human feelings. Prozac Diary is a wonderfully written report from inside a decade on Prozac, and an original writer's acute observations on the challenges of living modern life.From the Hardcover edition.
A psychologist's perceptions of mental illness which are illustrated with stories her patients have told her--privacy always protected.