Autobiography of a Face

Autobiography of a Face

Reviewed by: Peggy Vincent

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The Review:

When "Autobiography of a Face" came out, it created a sensation, not just for the raw facts of Lucy Grealy''s ordeal but even more for the lyrical, insightful point of view from which it was written. Diagnosed at 9 years of age with Ewing''s sarcoma, a potentially fatal carcinoma that attacked her lower jaw, she underwent disfiguring surgery and horrific chemo and radiation that further distorted her appearance. She used, in this memoir, her experience as a springboard from which to soar into passionate examinations of the meaning of truth, beauty, genius, like - all those biggies - and she did it with stunning success.

Her background as a poet shines via each paragraph of this seminal book. But. Then she died, and although her death was ruled accidental, it''s clear she had been on a steady downward spiral via the last couple of years of her life. Ann Patchett''s stunning and conflicted case of her 20-year friendship with Grealy (truth and Beauty) uncovers the raw underbelly of Lucy Grealy''s individuality, her unending quest to be special, first, best, and most of all, lovable.

To get a fuller image, one that I feel still isn''t quite complete, of this quixotic personal, it''s imperative that readers of Grealy''s book also read Patchett''s.

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