‘Lights On, Rats Out’

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In The New York Times Book Review, Daphne Merkin reviews Cree LeFavour’s “Lights On, Rats Out.” Merkin writes:

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As social media has made clear, most of us go public by putting our best face forward, sharing our triumphs and achievements rather than our sorrows or failures. Memoirists, especially good ones, tend to reveal the hidden anxieties and conflicts underlying their lives, and in doing so take the risk of being judged not only on the quality of their prose but on the content of their character. In a self-promoting culture, they dare to lead with their worst side.

Cree LeFavour, in her new memoir, “Lights On, Rats Out,” exhibits a rare willingness to take the reader into difficult and sometimes unpleasant territory. LeFavour, who has written several cookbooks, here gives us a riveting account of a “particular kind of crazy” — namely, the damaged and self-damaging young woman she once was. From its very first page, we are on the dark side of the moon, where logic holds no sway and all that matters is the next “pinprick of pain-pleasure” provided by the narrator’s burning her arms with cigarettes.

On this week’s podcast, LeFavour talks about her memoir; Andrew Sean Greer discusses his new novel, “Less”; Alexandra Alter has news from the literary world; and Gregory Cowles, Jennifer Szalai and John Williams on what people are reading. Pamela Paul is the host.

Here are the books mentioned in this week’s “What We’re Reading”:

“King Lear” by Shakespeare

“Money” by Martin Amis

“A Walker in the City” by Alfred Kazin

“Lives Other Than My Own” by Emmanuel Carrère

“Thus Were Their Faces” by Silvina Ocampo

We would love to hear your thoughts about this episode, and about the Book Review’s podcast in general. You can send them to books@nytimes.com.

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