February 19, 2002
4:00 Informal Seminar, HU 354
Reading & Discussion
(Introduction by Jeffrey Berman)
Recital Hall, PAC
Both UAlbany, Uptown Campus
Autobiography of a Face
At the age of nine, Lucy Grealy was diagnosed with Ewing's Sarcoma, a lethal form of cancer with only a five percent survival rate. She lost nearly half her jaw to the disease, endured three years of chemotherapy, and endless painful operations attempting to reconstruct her face. Yet in her 1994 memoir, Autobiography of a Face, Grealy tells the story of a different kind of pain - "the deep bottomless grief . . . called ugliness." It is this pain that she calls "the great tragedy of my life. The fact that I had cancer seemed minor in comparison."
The book is a powerful, strikingly candid account of the alienation, humiliation, and hostility Grealy endured as a result of her deformity. It is also a fresh and insightful commentary on the relationship between beauty and happiness in our society. The critical response to the work was overwhelming.
"The miracle is that Grealy combines the unbearable sensitivity of the poet with the relentless observation of the journalist, and . . . uses them to break free of the prison of her own suppressed fears." - Mary Beth Loup, Belles Lettres
[Grealy turns] "her misfortune into a book that is engaging and engrossing, a story of grace as well as cruelty."- Washington Post Book World
Grealy's most recent work, As Seen on TV: Provocations (2000), is an eclectic book of essays that tackles a wild array of diverse subjects. Whether she is discussing tango lessons or the New Testament, reflecting on her friendships with drag queens or Oprah, Grealy's familiar honesty, precision and wit light up this unique collection. "Sinuous and commanding essays," says the American Library Association, ". ..Grealy writes with thrilling precision and perceptivity." Grealy has received numerous awards for her work, including Harper's National Magazine Award, the Times Literary Supplement Poetry Prize, the Senora Review Poetry Prize, two Academy of American Poets Prizes, and the Whiting Writer's Award. She currently teaches writing at The New School and at Bennington College.
|This event is part of the
LITERATURE AND THE HEALING ARTS
Funded in part by the Dibner Foundation
Writers Online Magazine Article
Department of English