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With or Without You: A Memoir

Ruta, Domenica

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NEW YORK TIMES BESTSELLER • NAMED ONE OF THE TEN BEST NONFICTION BOOKS OF THE YEAR BY ENTERTAINMENT WEEKLY

A haunting, unforgettable mother-daughter story for a new generation—the debut of a blazing new lyrical voice

 
Domenica Ruta grew up in a working-class, unforgiving town north of Boston, in a trash-filled house on a dead-end road surrounded by a river and a salt marsh. Her mother, Kathi, a notorious local figure, was a drug addict and sometimes dealer whose life swung between welfare and riches, and whose highbrow taste was at odds with her hardscrabble life. And yet she managed, despite the chaos she created, to instill in her daughter a love of stories. Kathi frequently kept Domenica home from school to watch such classics as the Godfather movies and everything by Martin Scorsese and Woody Allen, telling her, “This is more important. I promise. You’ll thank me later.” And despite the fact that there was not a book to be found in her household, Domenica developed a love of reading, which helped her believe that she could transcend this life of undying grudges, self-inflicted misfortune, and the crooked moral code that Kathi and her cohorts lived by.
 
With or Without You is the story of Domenica Ruta’s unconventional coming of age—a darkly hilarious chronicle of a misfit ’90s youth and the necessary and painful act of breaking away, and of overcoming her own addictions and demons in the process. In a brilliant stylistic feat, Ruta has written a powerful, inspiring, compulsively readable, and finally redemptive story about loving and leaving.
 
Praise for With or Without You
 
“A luminous, layered accomplishment.” The New York Times Book Review

“A singular new coming-of-age memoir traces one girl’s twisting path up from mean streets (and parents) to the reflective life of a writer. . . . The burgeoning canon of literary memoir . . . begets another winner in Domenica Ruta’s searing With or Without You. . . . [A] gloriously gutsy memory-work.” Elle
 
“Stunning . . . comes across as a bleaker, funnier, R-rated version of The Glass Castle and marks the arrival of a blazing new voice in literature.” —Entertainment Weekly
 
“Valiant and heartbreaking.” Bust
 
“Powerful . . . Ruta found an unconventional voice, a scary good mixture of erudition and hardened street smarts. Her writing is also, as they say in Danvers, wicked funny—though in her case wicked is more an adjective than an intensifier. . . . [ With or Without You] hums with jangled energy and bristles with sharp edges. . . . Ruta writes with unflinching honesty.” Slate
 
“Bracingly funny and poignant.” —The Boston Globe
 
“Exceedingly powerful.” —Booklist

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Product Description:

NEW YORK TIMES BESTSELLER

A haunting, unforgettable mother-daughter story for a new generation—the debut of a blazing new lyrical voice

 
Domenica Ruta grew up in a working-class, unforgiving town north of Boston, in a trash-filled house on a dead-end road surrounded by a river and a salt marsh. Her mother, Kathi, a notorious local figure, was a drug addict and sometimes dealer whose life swung between welfare and riches, and whose highbrow taste was at odds with her hardscrabble life. And yet she managed, despite the chaos she created, to instill in her daughter a love of stories. Kathi frequently kept Domenica home from school to watch such classics as the Godfather movies and everything by Martin Scorsese and Woody Allen, telling her, “This is more important. I promise. You’ll thank me later.” And despite the fact that there was not a book to be found in her household, Domenica developed a love of reading, which helped her believe that she could transcend this life of undying grudges, self-inflicted misfortune, and the crooked moral code that Kathi and her cohorts lived by.
 
With or Without You is the story of Domenica Ruta’s unconventional coming of age—a darkly hilarious chronicle of a misfit ’90s youth and the necessary and painful act of breaking away, and of overcoming her own addictions and demons in the process. In a brilliant stylistic feat, Ruta has written a powerful, inspiring, compulsively readable, and finally redemptive story about loving and leaving.
 
Praise for With or Without You
 
“A luminous, layered accomplishment.” The New York Times Book Review

“A singular new coming-of-age memoir traces one girl’s twisting path up from mean streets (and parents) to the reflective life of a writer. . . . The burgeoning canon of literary memoir . . . begets another winner in Domenica Ruta’s searing With or Without You. . . . [A] gloriously gutsy memory-work.” Elle
 
“Stunning . . . comes across as a bleaker, funnier, R-rated version of The Glass Castle and marks the arrival of a blazing new voice in literature.” —Entertainment Weekly
 
“Valiant and heartbreaking.” Bust
 
“Powerful . . . Ruta found an unconventional voice, a scary good mixture of erudition and hardened street smarts. Her writing is also, as they say in Danvers, wicked funny—though in her case wicked is more an adjective than an intensifier. . . . [ With or Without You] hums with jangled energy and bristles with sharp edges. . . . Ruta writes with unflinching honesty.” Slate
 
“Bracingly funny and poignant.” —The Boston Globe
 
“Exceedingly powerful.” —Booklist

Review:

Q&A with Domenica Ruta

Q. With or Without You has been compared to The Glass Castle and The Liar's Club. What do you feel sets your story apart from other memoirs?

A. I intentionally avoided memoirs as a genre during my drinking years because I didn't want anyone to ruin my pity party or kill my buzz. While writing the first few drafts of my memoir I continued this abstention, but this time to protect myself from being influenced. I didn't know what a memoir was supposed to look like structurally or sound like tonally, and this ignorance felt to me like a precious state, the ideal place to start. After a couple of drafts, when I felt like I knew the basic shape and texture of this thing I was writing and was secure in that at least, I went on a memoir spree with an intentionally innocent curiosity. How does So-and-So do it? It was a great experience. I remember the day I read that Mary Karr's mother had the same gun my mum did, and I was so happy. It felt like an omen, or a blessing from the queen. I think all of the mother-daughter stories, the addiction stories, the traumatic childhood stories, speak for themselves. I consider myself lucky to be another voice in this chorus. What we have in common as memoirists is a subjective observation of a common humanity. It's what everyone has in common, whether they write their life stories or not.

Q. Your book is intensely personal. How did you decide to tell such intimate stories to the world?

A. I tried not to think about that aspect for the first draft. I wrote as if no one in the world would ever read a word of it, and told myself, if the issue of personal revelation becomes relevant, I will be more grateful to have this problem than I will be worried. But this approach is critical to writing anything. There are too many voices telling you that everything is a bad idea from the start. I'd never get anywhere if I considered these things in the beginning stages of development. It's a good thing writing is 90 percent rewriting, because with every new draft, I was growing as a person and a craftsman. I was getting stronger and more confident in my decisions--what to tell, what not to tell.

Q. What do you hope readers will learn or take away with them from your book?

A. The point of almost all memoirs, especially the sub-genre of trauma and recovery, is the simple promise that there is hope. I hope my book expands on this--that like hope, there is also beauty, everywhere and always, as long as you are willing to search for it. Ultimately I want readers to feel they've been given a good story, something worth retelling.

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Book Description Random House USA Inc, United States, 2013. Hardback. Book Condition: New. 234 x 157 mm. Language: English Brand New Book. NEW YORK TIMES BESTSELLER - NAMED ONE OF THE TEN BEST NONFICTION BOOKS OF THE YEAR BY ENTERTAINMENT WEEKLY A haunting, unforgettable mother-daughter story for a new generation--the debut of a blazing new lyrical voice Domenica Ruta grew up in a working-class, unforgiving town north of Boston, in a trash-filled house on a dead-end road surrounded by a river and a salt marsh. Her mother, Kathi, a notorious local figure, was a drug addict and sometimes dealer whose life swung between welfare and riches, and whose highbrow taste was at odds with her hardscrabble life. And yet she managed, despite the chaos she created, to instill in her daughter a love of stories. Kathi frequently kept Domenica home from school to watch such classics as the Godfather movies and everything by Martin Scorsese and Woody Allen, telling her, This is more important. I promise. You ll thank me later. And despite the fact that there was not a book to be found in her household, Domenica developed a love of reading, which helped her believe that she could transcend this life of undying grudges, self-inflicted misfortune, and the crooked moral code that Kathi and her cohorts lived by. With or Without You is the story of Domenica Ruta s unconventional coming of age--a darkly hilarious chronicle of a misfit 90s youth and the necessary and painful act of breaking away, and of overcoming her own addictions and demons in the process. In a brilliant stylistic feat, Ruta has written a powerful, inspiring, compulsively readable, and finally redemptive story about loving and leaving. Praise for With or Without You A luminous, layered accomplishment. -- The New York Times Book Review A singular new coming-of-age memoir traces one girl s twisting path up from mean streets (and parents) to the reflective life of a writer. . . . The burgeoning canon of literary memoir . . . begets another winner in Domenica Ruta s searing With or Without You. . . . [A] gloriously gutsy memory-work. -- Elle Stunning . . . comes across as a bleaker, funnier, R-rated version of The Glass Castle and marks the arrival of a blazing new voice in literature. --Entertainment Weekly Valiant and heartbreaking. -- Bust Powerful . . . Ruta found an unconventional voice, a scary good mixture of erudition and hardened street smarts. Her writing is also, as they say in Danvers, wicked funny--though in her case wicked is more an adjective than an intensifier. . . . [ With or Without You ] hums with jangled energy and bristles with sharp edges. . . . Ruta writes with unflinching honesty. -- Slate Bracingly funny and poignant. --The Boston Globe Exceedingly powerful. --Booklist. Bookseller Inventory # AAB9780812993240

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