Love and Trouble is a ferociously intelligent, blazingly funny new memoir from the New York Times best-selling author of Poser: My Life in Twenty-Three Yoga Poses.
When Claire Dederer turned 44 she began to have what she describes as “a lot of extremely inconvenient feelings”—feelings of recklessness, of impatience, along with a kind of voluptuous erotic reawakening. After the wildness of youth, and the bliss and captivity of motherhood, she experienced at midlife a sudden yearning for jailbreak. Love and Trouble: A Midlife Reckoning shifts between her present experience as a middle-aged mom in the grip of unruly and mysterious new hungers, and her recollection of herself as a teenager—the last time she experienced life with such heightened sensitivity and longing.
With extraordinary insight, ingenuity and wit, Love and Trouble toggles back and forth between youth and middle age—two vastly different periods that upon examination Dederer discovers are actually uncannily similar in their emotional intensity. From her hilarious chapter titles (“How to Have Sex with Your Husband of 15 Years;” “Recidivist Slutty Tendencies in the pre AIDS Adolescent Female”) to her irresistible voice and formal caprice—a scathing letter to Roman Polanski on the occasion of her daughter’s 13th birthday; a history of ruinous kisses; a geography of Seattle in the 80s; the ABCs of Oberlin (and the girls from Saint Ann’s: “When I left Oberlin I thought I was done with them forever, but it turned out they also edited all the magazines, and wrote all the books”)—Dederer captures the perils and pleasures of girlhood, womanhood, and life itself.
Praise for Love and Trouble:
“Sentence for sentence, a more pleasure-yielding midlife memoir is hard to think of.”–The Atlantic
“When I got my hands on Claire Dederer’s new book, I instantly turned off my phone, cancelled all my appointments, curled up in bed, and read all day in grateful — and thoughtful — abandon. … Love and Trouble is a book that caused me to think differently about marriage, about intimacy, about middle-age, and especially about what it means to have once been a sexually adventurous teenage girl. I saw myself all over these pages, and a think a lot of other readers will, as well.”–Elizabeth Gilbert, author of Eat, Pray, Love and The Signature of All Things
“Not only one of my favorite feminist books, but one of my favorite books of the last few years, period. . . . Exquisite. . . . So sharp and real and revelatory. . . . I loved it so, so much.”–Cheryl Strayed, author of Wild and Tiny Beautiful Things
“A fierce new memoir from the essayist and longtime New York Times contributor. In her debut, Poser (2011), Dederer trained her keen eye and penchant for dry self-deprecation on yoga and motherhood. Here, the author turns to other topics, primarily sex and aging. … Dederer is unstintingly honest and unafraid as she excavates her motivations and reservations, her fantasies, and the implications of the choices she has made – and those she has yet to make. Insightful, provocative, and fearlessly frank, Dederer seduces readers with her warmth, wit, and wisdom.”–Kirkus Reviews (starred review)
“Claire Dederer sidesteps both theatrical prose and broad clichés in favor of frank and colorful admissions of impatience, lust and guilt … Dederer is an excellent writer who spins her prose with the casual grace and easy humor of a seasoned professional.”–The New York Times Book Review
“Vivid, hilarious, daring … practically a master class in narrative technique.”–The Seattle Stranger
“Claire Dederer’s new memoir, Love and Trouble: A Midlife Reckoning, blew my mind. I kept putting the book down to look around my apartment, like, How can she see me? As with the best memoirists, Dederer knows how to find the places where the deeply personal becomes the profoundly universal.”–MTV news
“[Dederer’s] elegantly structured, expansive, and unapologetic account captures the sense of one woman’s self about as honestly as it is possible to do on a page.”–Library Journal (starred review)
“Magnificently frank and angry.”–The Washington Post
“Edgy, frank, and at times outright hilarious … This candid memoir will resonate with women (and quite possibly men) of all ages, but particularly those in midlife. Dederer brings a startling intimacy and immediacy to her version of growing up female in America.”–Publishers Weekly
“[Dederer] is a delightfully mordant companion. You could ask for no better guide to the center of yourself.”–Seattle Times
“The exploration of a mother’s midlife sexuality might not seem groundbreaking, until you think about how few people are doing it, particularly when compared to the destigmatization and taboo-smashing tell-alls younger women have been enacting in recent years.”–The Cut
“Love and Trouble is the most surprising and subversive memoir I’ve read in years. Come for what you think is a standard midlife crisis story. Stay for the luminous, gritty map of Seattle in the eighties and nineties; the perfectly recalled angst of adolescence; the dark midnights of men and whiskey; the intelligent meditations on women, their vulnerability and sexuality. Put the book down with gratitude for the Claire Dederer’s unshrinking honesty and mastery of her material.”–Stephanie Danler, author of Sweetbitter
“Love and Trouble is a welcome deep-dive into Claire Dederer’s girl self and grown self, and the way the two have overlapped and pulled apart over time. This knowing and original memoir abounds with intelligence, wit, earned nostalgia, and an impressive degree of understanding about no less than being female and becoming a person.”–Meg Wolitzer, author of The Interestings and The Wife
“Love and Trouble is unlike any memoir I’ve ever read: formally inventive and wise, have-to-put-the-book-down funny yet somehow tinged with grief. And the sentences! They simply sing. I’ve never thought so deeply, or in so many different modes, about my own sexuality, femininity, and motherhood. Though I don’t mean to suggest that this is a book just for women—I kept reading passages aloud to my husband, as a way of asking him to understand something essential about me, and about himself, and about marriage in general. I began reading Love and Trouble thinking Dederer was writing about herself; halfway through I decided she was writing about me. By the time I finished I realized she’d written to me, and to my daughters—to all of us.”–Jamie Quatro, author of I Want to Show You More
“In equal parts hilarious and haunting, Love and Trouble captures the ways in which our past selves are never really past. In loose, edgy, confident prose, Claire Dederer peels back layer after layer of herself as an erotic creature, and in so doing, has crafted a book that grabs the reader in an utterly visceral way. This is an exciting, daring memoir.”–Dani Shapiro, author of Devotion and Slow Motion
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