Long Half-Lives of Love and Trauma, The

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Long Half-Lives of Love and Trauma, The

Long Half-Lives of Love and Trauma, The

A Memoir

By: Helen Epstein

audio performed by: Barrie Kreinik
genre: Biography - Biography
publication date:03/19/2019


This intrepid memoir tracks sexual harassment and sexual abuse in the life of a veteran American journalist. It also describes the long and ultimately successful psychotherapy the author undertook to heal. The Long Half-Lives of Love and Trauma “invents its own genre,” wrote Sherry Turkle. “The author suspects sexual abuse in her childhood and investigates with the toolkits of an historian and ethnographer.” The result is a memoir that is what Eva Hoffman calls, “a true labor of memory, in which the story of the body is inseparable from the narrative of the self.”

This memoir is the third of a nonfiction trilogy, following Helen Epstein's Children of the Holocaust: Conversations with Sons and Daughters of Survivors (Putnam, 1979) and Where She Came From: A Daughter's Search for Her Mother's History (Little, Brown, 1997), both widely translated. As Gloria Steinem wrote, “In Epstein's hands, truth becomes not only stranger than fiction but more magnetic.”

“Clear-eyed, fearless, taboo-breaking.... This trilogy is unusual not only because nearly 40 years separate the first and last volumes - with the second positioned midway at the 20-year mark - but also because the works differ so greatly in style, structure, and content.... The Long Half-Lives of Love and Trauma's major contribution is its willingness to talk openly and place forefront a personal trauma of sexual abuse in its post-Holocaust context.... Helen Epstein has consistently rejected sanitizing Jewish history - including women's history.... She has refused to keep secrets that she knew needed to be told, and she has avoided idealization, nostalgia, and hagiography." (Irena Klepfisz, Tablet Magazine)

“Epstein takes the reader through her decades-long process of self-discovery, understanding, and healing accomplished through a strong bond of friendship, a solid and supportive family, and the powerfully restorative effects of psychoanalysis...written with page-turning clarity, openness, and complete honesty.... This is a ground-breaking memoir in style and in its contribution to the issues of sexual abuse.” (Berkshire Eagle)