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Playing House

Notes of a Reluctant Mother

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eBook published by Beacon Press (Beacon Press)

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About This Book
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. In these autobiographical pieces, Slater presents snapshots of domestic life, populating them with the gritty details and jarring realities of sharing home, life, and body in the curious institution called “family.” She asks difficult questions and probes unsettling truths about sex, love, and parenting. In these pages, Slater introduces us to her struggles with her mother, her determination to make a home of her own, her compromises in deciding to marry (her conflicts manifesting as an affair on the eve of her wedding), her initial struggle to connect with her newborn child, and the dilemmas of mothering with a mental illness. She writes openly about her decision to abort her second pregnancy and her later decision to have a second child after all. She tells us about the searing decision to have elective double mastectomy and how her love for her husband was magically rekindled after she saw him catch fire in a chemical accident.

It’s not all mastectomies and chemical fires, though. Slater digs into the everyday challenges of family living, from buying a lemon of a car and fighting back menacing weeds to gaining weight and being jealous of the nanny.  Beautifully written, often humorous, and always revealing, these stories scrutinize the complex questions surrounding family life, offering up sometimes uncomfortable truths. 
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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. In these autobiographical pieces, Slater presents snapshots of domestic life, populating them with the gritty details and jarring realities of sharing home, life, and body in the curious institution called “family.” She asks difficult questions and probes unsettling truths about sex, love, and parenting. In these pages, Slater introduces us to her struggles with her mother, her determination to make a home of her own, her compromises in deciding to marry (her conflicts manifesting as an affair on the eve of her wedding), her initial struggle to connect with her newborn child, and the dilemmas of mothering with a mental illness. She writes openly about her decision to abort her second pregnancy and her later decision to have a second child after all. She tells us about the searing decision to have elective double mastectomy and how her love for her husband was magically rekindled after she saw him catch fire in a chemical accident.

It’s not all mastectomies and chemical fires, though. Slater digs into the everyday challenges of family living, from buying a lemon of a car and fighting back menacing weeds to gaining weight and being jealous of the nanny.  Beautifully written, often humorous, and always revealing, these stories scrutinize the complex questions surrounding family life, offering up sometimes uncomfortable truths. 
Product Details
eBook (208 pages)
Published: November 5, 2013
Publisher: Beacon Press
Imprint: Beacon Press
ISBN: 9780807001745
Other books byLauren Slater
  • Welcome to My Country

    Welcome to My Country
    The world of the schizophrenic, the depressed, the suicidal can seem a foreign, frightening place. Now, a brilliant writer/psychologist takes readers on a mesmerizing journey into this enigmatic world. As readers interact through Slater with patients Lenny, Moxi, Oscar, and Marie, they come to understand more about the human mind and spirit. First serial to Harper's.

    The $60,000 Dog

    The $60,000 Dog
    My Life with Animals
    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.

    Lying

    Lying
    A Metaphorical Memoir
    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 neurological disturbances-and the compulsion to lie. Openly questioning the reliability of memoir itself, Slater presents the mesmerizing story of a young woman who discovers not only what plagues her but also what cures her-the birth of her sensuality, her creativity as an artist, and storytelling as an act of healing.

    Opening Skinner's Box

    Opening Skinner's Box
    Great Psychological Experiments of the...
    Beginning with B. F. Skinner and the legend of a child raised in a box, Slater takes us from a deep empathy with Stanley Milgram's obedience subjects to a funny and disturbing re-creation of an experiment questioning the validity of psychiatric diagnosis. Previously described only in academic journals and textbooks, these often daring experiments have never before been narrated as stories, chock-full of plot, wit, personality, and theme.

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