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Lights On, Rats Out: A Memoir
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Grove Atlantic 2017
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"A harrowing, beautiful, searching, and deeply literary memoir. In these pages, we watch Cree LeFavour evolve from a wounded (and wounding) lost girl to a woman who can at last regard her existence with a modicum of mercy and forgiveness...a story of true self-salvation and transformation."—Elizabeth Gilbert
As a young college graduate a year into treatment with a psychiatrist, Cree LeFavour's began to organize her days around the cruel, compulsive logic of self-harm: with each newly lit cigarette, the world would drop away as her focus narrowed to an unblemished patch of skin calling out for attention and the fierce, blooming release of pleasure-pain as the burning tip was applied to the skin. Her body was a canvas of cruelty; each scar a mark of pride and shame.
In sharp and shocking language, Lights On, Rats Out brings us closely into these years, allowing us to feel the pull of a stark compulsion taking over a mind. We see the world as Cree did—turned upside down, the richness of life muted and dulled, its pleasures perverted. The heady, vertiginous thrill of meeting with her psychiatrist, Dr. X—whose relationship with Cree is at once sustaining and paralyzing—comes to be the only bright spot in her mental solitude.
Her extraordinary access to and inclusion of the notes kept by Dr. X during treatment offer concrete evidence of Cree's transformation over 3 years of therapy. But it is her own evocative and razor-sharp prose that traces a path from a lonely and often sad childhood to her reluctant commitment to and emergence from a psychiatric hospital, to the saving refuge of literature and eventual acceptance of love. Moving deftly between the dialogue and observations from psychiatric records and elegant, incisive reflection on youth and early adulthood, Lights On, Rats Out illuminates a fiercely bright and independent woman's charged attachment to a mental health professional and the dangerous compulsion to keep him in her life at all costs.

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Street Date:
08/01/2017
Language:
English
ISBN:
9780802189158
ASIN:
B01MRZ6DKE
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Citations
APA Citation (style guide)

Cree LeFavour. (2017). Lights On, Rats Out: A Memoir. Grove Atlantic.

Chicago / Turabian - Author Date Citation (style guide)

Cree LeFavour. 2017. Lights On, Rats Out: A Memoir. Grove Atlantic.

Chicago / Turabian - Humanities Citation (style guide)

Cree LeFavour, Lights On, Rats Out: A Memoir. Grove Atlantic, 2017.

MLA Citation (style guide)

Cree LeFavour. Lights On, Rats Out: A Memoir. Grove Atlantic, 2017. Web.

Note! Citation formats are based on standards as of July 2010. Citations contain only title, author, edition, publisher, and year published. Citations should be used as a guideline and should be double checked for accuracy.
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Date Added:
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Date Updated:
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shortDescription

"A harrowing, beautiful, searching, and deeply literary memoir. In these pages, we watch Cree LeFavour evolve from a wounded (and wounding) lost girl to a woman who can at last regard her existence with a modicum of mercy and forgiveness...a story of true self-salvation and transformation."—Elizabeth Gilbert
As a young college graduate a year into treatment with a psychiatrist, Cree LeFavour's began to organize her days around the cruel, compulsive logic of self-harm: with each newly lit cigarette, the world would drop away as her focus narrowed to an unblemished patch of skin calling out for attention and the fierce, blooming release of pleasure-pain as the burning tip was applied to the skin. Her body was a canvas of cruelty; each scar a mark of pride and shame.
In sharp and shocking language, Lights On, Rats Out brings us closely into these years, allowing us to feel the pull of a stark compulsion taking over a mind. We see the world as Cree...

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Lights On, Rats Out
fullDescription

"A harrowing, beautiful, searching, and deeply literary memoir. In these pages, we watch Cree LeFavour evolve from a wounded (and wounding) lost girl to a woman who can at last regard her existence with a modicum of mercy and forgiveness...a story of true self-salvation and transformation."—Elizabeth Gilbert
As a young college graduate a year into treatment with a psychiatrist, Cree LeFavour's began to organize her days around the cruel, compulsive logic of self-harm: with each newly lit cigarette, the world would drop away as her focus narrowed to an unblemished patch of skin calling out for attention and the fierce, blooming release of pleasure-pain as the burning tip was applied to the skin. Her body was a canvas of cruelty; each scar a mark of pride and shame.
In sharp and shocking language, Lights On, Rats Out brings us closely into these years, allowing us to feel the pull of a stark compulsion taking over a mind. We see the world as Cree did—turned upside down, the richness of life muted and dulled, its pleasures perverted. The heady, vertiginous thrill of meeting with her psychiatrist, Dr. X—whose relationship with Cree is at once sustaining and paralyzing—comes to be the only bright spot in her mental solitude.
Her extraordinary access to and inclusion of the notes kept by Dr. X during treatment offer concrete evidence of Cree's transformation over 3 years of therapy. But it is her own evocative and razor-sharp prose that traces a path from a lonely and often sad childhood to her reluctant commitment to and emergence from a psychiatric hospital, to the saving refuge of literature and eventual acceptance of love. Moving deftly between the dialogue and observations from psychiatric records and elegant, incisive reflection on youth and early adulthood, Lights On, Rats Out illuminates a fiercely bright and independent woman's charged attachment to a mental health professional and the dangerous compulsion to keep him in her life at all costs.

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reviews
      • premium: False
      • source: Publishers Weekly (starred review)
      • content: "LeFavour's debut memoir is a riveting exploration of a period in her early 20s . . . The memoir, based in part on medical records relinquished at the final session with [her psychiatrist] Dr. Kohl, chronicles LeFavour's deepening relationship with him."
      • premium: False
      • source: Elizabeth Gilbert
      • content: “A harrowing, beautiful, searching, and deeply literary memoir. In these pages, we watch Cree LeFavour evolve from a wounded (and wounding) lost girl to a woman who can at last regard her existence with a modicum of mercy and forgiveness. To see somebody trade in her life of suffering and isolation for a life of shaky (but authentic) self-compassion is a gift. LeFavour takes no easy shortcuts on her path to healing--only because there are no easy shortcuts. Nor does she ever relinquish a molecule of her blindingly sharp intelligence as she guides us expertly through the mazes of her broken, youthful mind. It is sometimes difficult to read of the pain she inflicted upon herself when she was young--but life is sometimes difficult to live, and we must all be honest about that. LeFavour is nothing if not honest as she tries to explain (and to comprehend for her own purposes) why a beautiful, gifted young woman would have gone so far out of her way to injure herself. In so doing, she ultimately offers us a story of true self-salvation and transformation, told in such a way as I've never quite seen it told before. I admire this book immensely--and its author even more."
      • premium: False
      • source: Jonathan Miles
      • content: “With chilled, unflinching precision, in Lights On, Rats Out, Lefavour lays bare her struggles with self-mutilation, chronicling a terrifying clash between mind and flesh. A vivid, unsettling, and powerful read."
      • premium: False
      • source: Adam Ross
      • content: “Cree LeFavour's memoir of self-mutilation and temporary insanity isn't for the faint of heart. Rather, it's for anyone who's ever been too scared to feel or too hurt to register pain--in other words, all of us. I don't think I've ever read a more hopeful, searingly intelligent book about the distances we're capable of traveling as we find our way back to the light."
      • premium: True
      • source: Publisher's Weekly
      • content:

        Starred review from March 27, 2017
        Cookbook author (Fish) LeFavour’s debut memoir is a riveting exploration of a period in her early 20s when she habitually burned herself with cigarettes and developed a deeply intimate relationship with her psychiatrist. LeFavour’s youth was unconventional; her father became a well-known chef, money was not an issue, and the family traveled extensively before buying a home in Sun Valley, Idaho. When she was 13, LeFavour’s parents divorced (her mother, an alcoholic, ran off; her father relocated to California) and she and her sister were left to manage for years without adult supervision. Eventually she attended Vermont’s Middlebury College, and after graduating she began seeing a psychiatrist, here given the pseudonym Dr. Kohl. He helped her come to grips with bulimia, social disconnection, and a persistent urge for self-harm (her arms bore the scars of 100 self-inflicted wounds). The memoir, based in part on medical records relinquished at the final session with Dr. Kohl, chronicles LeFavour’s deepening relationship with him; he served as her confidante and a “quasi” father figure, and she eventually fell in love with him. They both maintained professional boundaries and she honored her agreement to commit herself to a psychiatric hospital when she couldn’t stop the burning. When the “lights” finally came on for this profoundly troubled young woman, she writes, she was able to release her shame and pain, and embrace a future of possibilities.

      • premium: True
      • source: Kirkus
      • content:

        Starred review from June 15, 2017
        A noted cookbook writer tells the story of her young-adulthood battles with mental illness and self-harming behaviors.Abandoned and neglected by her mother and father when she was just 13, LeFavour (Pork: More than 50 Heavenly Meals that Celebrate the Glory of Pig, Delicious Pig, 2014, etc.) grew up virtually parent-free. Though never wanting for money, she began to experience depression in high school; in the years after college, her symptoms, which included irrational numerical fixations and bulimia, began to worsen. When the author was 24, she started therapy with a Vermont psychiatrist named Dr. Adam Kohl. The more she opened up, the more she discovered that she "wanted all of him--or none." Taking masochistic pleasure in how "special" her own self-loathing made her feel, LeFavour began inflicting cigarette burns all over her body, which she only showed to Kohl. The marks were "[their] secret" but also a way for LeFavour to "punish" the psychiatrist for "activating my desire for him." Their therapy sessions devolved into a contest of wills, with the doctor refusing to see an increasingly distraught LeFavour if she continued to self-harm. Told that their sessions would go on only if she went to a psychiatric hospital, the author voluntarily committed herself to Sheppard and Enoch Pratt Hospital in Maryland, where she was diagnosed with borderline personality disorder. When she returned to therapy with Kohl, they probed her taste for humiliation, which she satisfied with damaged men or those who, like the doctor, were unavailable to her. Working against demons and an inner tyrant that often threatened to overwhelm her, LeFavour learned the lessons of self-forgiveness that helped her heal. Meticulously constructed from detailed physician notes and her own journals, the book is both disturbing and deeply cathartic. As LeFavour explores the destructive relationship between her mind and body in tandem with her unhealthy, quasi-erotic attachment to her psychiatrist, she lays bare the human hunger--no matter how perverse--for acceptance and love. A searingly eloquent and intelligent memoir.

        COPYRIGHT(2017) Kirkus Reviews, ALL RIGHTS RESERVED.

      • premium: True
      • source: Booklist
      • content:

        Starred review from July 1, 2017
        LeFavour is a James Beard Awardnominated cookbook author, but this is no culinary romp. Instead, this memoir is an intense examination of mental illness, self-destruction, and survival. Cree and her older sister, Nicole, grew up in Aspen, children of a free-spirited couple with good intentions but miserable, nearly criminal parenting instincts. The LeFavours tripped along from ranches to the South Pacific to Sun Valley before Cree's parents shrugged off those bothersome monikers of mom and dad, both going their own ways, and leaving their 13- and 15-year-old girls on their own. We meet Cree in her early twenties, massively depressed, fighting bulimia, scarring herself with third-degree cigarette burns, and deeply dependent on and in love with her psychoanalyst, Dr. Kohl. By rehashing therapy-session transcripts, LeFavour lays bare the complex world of her pathology and the immense marvel and monstrosity of the human brain. In startling, beautiful language reminiscent of Plath, LeFavour details her horrific, masochistic impulses. In one chapter when LeFavour's sanity wavers, splendid women like Plath, Sexton, and Porcia Catonis appear in the psychiatric ward, acting both as ominous harbingers and beacons of hope. A searing, brilliant memoir revealing the therapeutic process and its ability to turn our ghosts into ancestors. (Reprinted with permission of Booklist, copyright 2017, American Library Association.)

      • premium: True
      • source: Library Journal
      • content:

        August 1, 2017

        Powerful and troubling, cookbook author LeFavour's (Fish) memoir of temporary insanity and eventual redemption is a voyeuristic portrayal of a young woman's descent into a state of self-destruction that eventually culminates in a stint in a mental institution. Bulimia, self-mutilation, and transference are central factors in the author's story; the detail in which the pleasure/pain of burning is described reveals much about the writer's mental state and serves as a harrowing, realistic representation of the compulsion to self-harm. The narrative often reads as a stream-of-consciousness, in which a collection of thoughts, anxiety, and mental lists add an extra layer of truth to the representation of personality disorder and the stages that mark the progress of a mental breakdown. At times narcissistic, LaFavour's voice can be exasperating. Her privilege is evident, and her story may not resonate with all readers. Moreover, the descriptions of self-harm may be triggers for some audiences. VERDICT Combining medical records with a deeply personal narrative, this unique exploration of mental health and therapy deserves a place among memoirs such as Susanna Kay's Girl, Interrupted, and Elizabeth Wurtzel's Prozac Nation.--Gricel Dominguez, Florida International Univ. Lib.

        Copyright 2017 Library Journal, LLC Used with permission.

      • premium: True
      • source: Library Journal
      • content:

        April 1, 2017

        Before LeFavour became a James Beard Award-nominated cookbook author, she was a troubled college graduate with the disquieting habit of applying sizzling cigarette tips to her skin. Here she explains how dangerously important her psychiatrist became to her. BEA promotion.

        Copyright 2017 Library Journal, LLC Used with permission.

subtitle
A Memoir
popularity
282
publisher
Grove Atlantic
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