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Stray : A Memoir
by Stephanie Danler




Overview -
From the bestselling author of Sweetbitter, a memoir of growing up in a family shattered by lies and addiction, and of one woman's attempts to find a life beyond the limits of her past. Stray is a moving, sometimes devastating, brilliantly written and ultimately inspiring exploration of the landscapes of damage and survival.

After selling her first novel--a dream she'd worked long and hard for--Stephanie Danler knew she should be happy. Instead, she found herself driven to face the difficult past she'd left behind a decade ago: a mother disabled by years of alcoholism, further handicapped by a tragic brain aneurysm; a father who abandoned the family when she was three, now a meth addict in and out of recovery. After years in New York City she's pulled home to Southern California by forces she doesn't totally understand, haunted by questions of legacy and trauma. Here, she works toward answers, uncovering hard truths about her parents and herself as she explores whether it's possible to change the course of her history.

Lucid and honest, heart-breaking and full of hope, Stray is an examination of what we inherit and what we don't have to, of what we have to face in ourselves to move forward, and what it's like to let go of one's parents in order to find peace--and a family--of one's own.

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More About Stray by Stephanie Danler

 
 
 

Overview

From the bestselling author of Sweetbitter, a memoir of growing up in a family shattered by lies and addiction, and of one woman's attempts to find a life beyond the limits of her past. Stray is a moving, sometimes devastating, brilliantly written and ultimately inspiring exploration of the landscapes of damage and survival.

After selling her first novel--a dream she'd worked long and hard for--Stephanie Danler knew she should be happy. Instead, she found herself driven to face the difficult past she'd left behind a decade ago: a mother disabled by years of alcoholism, further handicapped by a tragic brain aneurysm; a father who abandoned the family when she was three, now a meth addict in and out of recovery. After years in New York City she's pulled home to Southern California by forces she doesn't totally understand, haunted by questions of legacy and trauma. Here, she works toward answers, uncovering hard truths about her parents and herself as she explores whether it's possible to change the course of her history.

Lucid and honest, heart-breaking and full of hope, Stray is an examination of what we inherit and what we don't have to, of what we have to face in ourselves to move forward, and what it's like to let go of one's parents in order to find peace--and a family--of one's own.

 

Details

  • ISBN-13: 9781101875964
  • ISBN-10: 1101875968
  • Publisher: Knopf Publishing Group
  • Publish Date: May 2020
  • Page Count: 256
  • Dimensions: 8.3 x 5.9 x 1.3 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1 pounds


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BookPage Reviews

Stray

With the success of her novel, Sweetbitter, which spawned a television series, it might seem like Stephanie Danler has led a charmed life. Anyone who reads her fierce, unsparing memoir, Stray, however, will be quickly disabused of that notion.

From a rental house in Los Angeles’ Laurel Canyon where some members of Fleetwood Mac may have once lived, Danler ranges over the whole of her life as the daughter of two parents who failed in the most essential task: providing their offspring with a safe and loving home. Danler’s mother’s alcoholism is complicated by her near death from a brain aneurysm in her 40s, forcing Danler to confront her obligation to care for someone who repudiates her attempts at care. Her father, who abandoned Danler when she was 3 years old and later brought her into his Colorado home when she was 16, spirals toward ruin in the grip of an addiction to crystal meth, his life a cloud of lies and neglect. Out of this “veritable sea of alcoholism and narcissism,” Danler is flung ashore, ill-prepared for the demands of adulthood.

As if the struggles of her parents’ illnesses and addictions aren’t painful enough, in the wake of her own short-lived first marriage, Danler also finds herself in a destructive affair with a married man she nicknames the “Monster.” As she oscillates between the seemingly irresistible pull of her desire and her understanding of the toxicity of that relationship, she simultaneously draws closer to another man she calls the “Love Interest,” whose self--imposed mission is to introduce her to some of the bleaker features of Los Angeles’ landscape, like a lake that’s turned into a dust bowl, “yet another god forsaken place.”

In Danler’s evocation of California’s complicated history and the darkness that lurks under its sunny exterior, Stray brings to mind the work of Joan Didion, and her frank portrayal of the nightmare of addiction is akin to Leslie Jamison’s The Recovering. But in its painful candor and hard-earned wisdom, Stray is every bit its own vivid creation.

ALSO IN BOOKPAGE: Read a Q&A with Stephanie Danler.

 

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