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Lying: A Metaphorical Memoir

3.91  ·  Rating details ·  1,879 ratings  ·  200 reviews
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 neurologica ...more
Paperback, 221 pages
Published October 1st 2001 by Penguin Books (first published 2000)
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Sep 07, 2013 rated it liked it
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 m ...more
Erika B. (SOS BOOKS)
"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 surgicall ...more
Aug 01, 2007 rated it liked it
Shelves: memoirs
This was a tricky book to read, because the author/narrator 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 seizur ...more
Jun 28, 2011 added it
Shelves: dark, experimental
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 quarter 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 m
Jim Elkins
Oct 09, 2012 rated it it was ok
Shelves: american
Slater 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 truths.[return][return]Slater has been rev ...more
Jan 04, 2012 rated it liked it
Shelves: memoir
(Homework response, November 7th, 2011)

Lauren 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 more gradual. The first place where she admits to adding something to t
Rebecca H.
Aug 30, 2011 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: bio-autobio
I couldn’t decide for a while whether I loved or hated Lauren Slater’s book Lying: A Metaphorical Memoir. Finally, maybe a quarter of the way into it, I decided I loved it and I never changed my mind again. But it’s the kind of book I would think carefully about before I recommended it to anyone, as it strikes me as potentially hateable. It seems that Slater has a talent for stirring up controversy (whether this is what she intends or not, I’m not sure). My first introduction to her was the 2006 ...more
Jul 13, 2014 rated it really liked it
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Elissa Washuta
Sep 04, 2012 rated it it was amazing
It's difficult to describe this brilliant memoir without reducing it to a simple, inadequate 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 be ...more
Nicholas Montemarano
Jan 31, 2009 rated it it was amazing
I can understand why someone would love this book and why someone else (especially someone who has written a more straightforward memoir of illness) might absolutely hate it, given Slater's blatant, almost aggressive blurring of the line between memoir and fiction, but I'm an enthusiastic member of the former camp rather than the latter. I can't say, based on how she comes across as a character on the page, that I'd want to spend time with the author, but that's really none of my business as a r ...more
Amber Tidwell
Oct 14, 2012 rated it really liked it
unreliable narrators are the best!
Jul 02, 2017 rated it it was ok
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 preferences.

Slater'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 arg
Mar 06, 2011 rated it it was amazing
I really enjoyed reading Lauren Slater’s Lying because of the range of experimentation within the text. The problem I often have with memoir is the tendency some writers have to be overly poignant and important about their life stories. Personally, I’m not a real fan of that type of memoir. That’s why I really appreciated Slater’s ability to tell her story with a really specific kind of coherence and intelligence. She is able to look at the experiences within her life from a critical as well as ...more
Laura Wallace
Apr 18, 2009 rated it it was amazing
it's impossible to know if I would like this book so much had I not read it as a young teenager. it was one of the first meta-books (metafiction? metamemoir? meta-metaphorical memoir?) I ever read. plus Slater's sentences are silky-smooth, the kind I loved back then. Lying is in my head in a major way and I always enjoy rereading it.

I have since known several pathological liars, including one who probably has Munchausen's, so Slater's book has taken on the additional aspect of giving me an insi
Jenny Mckeel
Aug 03, 2009 rated it it was amazing
I absolutely adored this memoir, but perhaps it's not for everyone. "Lying" is the coming of age story of Lauren Slater and describes her battle with epilepsy and the attendant neurological and psychological symptoms, which include a tendency to exaggerate and lie. Throughout the memoir Slater is up front about the fact that she is blending fact and fiction and is using epilepsy as a metaphor for her mind and the things she is struggling with. So you're never quite clear what is "fact" and what ...more
mis fit
Lying: A Metaphorical Memoir is a memoir about growing up with epilepsy... or maybe not. Though ostensibly a work of nonfiction, this isn't as straightforward as your average living-with-illness memoir. What happens when the narrator has an admitted penchant for “exaggerating”? Very interesting things!!

Seizing is grabbing for something, wanting to take hold of it. It's about Slater's empty mouth, chewed up and raw, a hunger so violent she's eating her own tongue. Slater does a lot of longing thr
Jun 05, 2013 rated it it was amazing
If you said to me, "Who is your favorite writer?" I would probably say Ursula K. Le Guin.

But if you then clarified a bit and said, "No, I mean, whose writing is so surprisingly and shockingly well crafted that you can't read it without feeling like you just stepped into a puddle of ice water?" I would say, "Oh, duh. You mean Lauren Slater. She's the best. Like, she might actually be *the* best."
Henry Barry
Feb 27, 2015 rated it really liked it
Shelves: misc-nonfiction
I thoroughly enjoyed this book, simply because I spent the entire time thinking to myself: "What in the world is this crazy lady going to do next?" Slater completely succeeds in her goal of blurring the line between fiction and memoir, making a very interesting story. I was able to read this in an afternoon, and loved the fast pacing.
Mary Lynn
Aug 04, 2012 rated it it was amazing
Very interesting format, style, and beautifully written. Is it a novel; is it a memoir; are these facts, or fictions? Slater's text refuses to be bullied into categorization. I recommend this for anyone interested in the storytelling trade. (Also: a lot of great insight into temporal lobe epilepsy, metaphorical or not.)
Mar 18, 2013 rated it really liked it
Shelves: read-2013
At the end of reading this, I put the book down and realised that I still have no idea whether this is a memoir or a novel. Which means that Slater accomplished what she set out to do.

Fascinating reading, be it fact or fiction.
Jennifer O'Kelly
Nov 29, 2017 rated it did not like it
This wasn't a good book. I ordered it at a time when I was very interested in the notion of personal narrative building - the place of fiction in constructing an identity and understanding our own lives, particularly in instances of somewhat disrupted consciousness, as in the case of certain personality disorders or mental illnesses. 'Lying' seemed an ideal read.

Slater describes the book as a "metaphorical memoir". She sets out to blur the lines between memoir and fiction, publishing as non-fic
I know that a lot of people in reading this book felt frustrated because we don't know whether the author is lying or not. But for me, it didn't matter if she was lying or not. Besides, how do we know that other people who are writing their memoirs aren't lying? We don't. There's no true way of knowing, unless I guess they pass a polygraph while reading their memoir. But even that can get shady.

Whether or not Slater has epilepsy isn't what interested me. It's not something I obsessed about. Ins
Sep 06, 2017 rated it liked it
Shelves: 2017
This book is as hard to rate on a five-star scale as it is to figure out what "really happens." Slater does remind us constantly that everything she's saying could be a lie. But I didn't truly get into her frame of mind until the end, when Slater lays out her "motto" with such clear, solid language it'd be hard to miss.

As much as I bumbled my way through this memoir, I ultimately liked it. The writing was strong, the formatting was interesting (it had a letter to her actual editor on how to mar
Oct 21, 2018 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: memoir-cnf
I loved this book. Lauren Slater writes so beautifully, and the material was so engaging. Did she have epilepsy? How do truth and memory and “fact” work in a memoir, or even just in our own understandings of our selves? I really appreciated the various methods she applied in how she formatted the text. The 4 main sections, broken up into chapters. Chapters made of numerical lists, or of excerpts (real or not?) from other sources. The over-arching structure was strong enough to support those smal ...more
May 12, 2017 rated it it was amazing
Very postmodern, I get it. I don't read nonfiction for the "real" aspect (ok I do to a degree but it's not the #1 thing that makes me interested in the story) so for me my focus on the text was not with the truth vs fabrication issue, but rather the underlying reasons of why. The other elements of the book, such as her relationship with her parents. The book goes into an interesting discussion on having an emotional "hole", and disease. The book is a very quick and quirky read, the humor is char ...more
Brooke Kaiser
Sep 05, 2018 rated it really liked it
The author describes this as a metaphorical memoir. She describers her life as she recalls it, through the lens of a woman who has suffered from epilepsy, mental illness or Munchhausen Syndrome, or any and all of them. She warns the reader in Chapter One that she exaggerates. She does not warn than she writes from the point of view of a woman who lives within an individual reality, discounting what is real and true.
It is very well written and an interesting read, but I found it to be self indulg
Danielle D'amico
Nov 07, 2018 rated it really liked it
Though I don't know if I agree with the ethics of this memoir, Lauren Slater has a beautiful way of writing. The slipperiness of this memoir pulled me in and still after finishing has me asking questions. It is ethical to write a memoir that is not factually true, but emotionally true? To use a disability as a memoir for something else? All I know is that though I cannot trust Lauren Slater in this memoir, I can still enjoy her writing.
Feb 17, 2018 rated it it was amazing
It’s going to take me a long time to digest this book, but no doubt it’s love at first read. A brilliant book in analyzing what crosses genres in literature, our physical and mental make up, and in how to tell a story. I see how someone could hate this book. For me, I stepped into its willingness to explore what is reality versus tall tales and have fallen out the other end believing nothing, and yet everything, is real.
Mar 16, 2018 rated it liked it
this book reminds me of one i read a long time ago with a similar construction i think it was called liar? justine larbalestier
anyway i don't really have anything to say other than i'm glad it was quick read bc honestly i just needed it to write an essay
Jenine Young
Oct 21, 2017 rated it really liked it
I read Prozac Nation and had to follow it with this one. This story resonated with me.
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What's the Name o...: memoir of a pathological liar/hypochondriac [s] 4 45 Apr 06, 2014 08:05PM  
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Lauren Slater is a psychologist and writer. She is the author of numerous books, including Welcome to My Country, Lying: A Metaphorical Memoir, Opening Skinner’s Box, and Blue Beyond Blue, a collection of short stories. Slater’s most recent book is The $60,000 Dog: My Life with Animals.

Slater has been the recipient of numerous awards, among them a 2004 National Endowments for the Arts Award, and m
“I record my life, sifting and trying to separate what is real from what I’ve dreamed. I have decided not to tell you what is fact versus what is unfact primarily because (a) I am giving you a portrait of the essence of me, and (b) because, living where I do, living in the chasm that cuts through thought, it is lonely… 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 most honest 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.” 12 likes
“Everyone knows that a lot of memoirs have made-up scenes; it's obvious. And everyone knows that half the time at least fictions contain literal autobiographical truths. So how do we decide what's what, and does it even matter?” 8 likes
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