At its heart, Lauren Slater's "Lying: A Metaphorical Memoir" (Random House, $21.95) is a story of self-discovery.
An exposition of the most painful truths, it tells about a young girl dealing with the pressures of an overambitious mother who speaks in maxims and loves with force, and of a mysterious illness that arouses and chokes her being in myriad ways. It is about a young woman discovering language, affliction and sensuality in a world in which she does not seem to fit.
Throughout the book, epilepsy and Slater's other illnesses are sometimes represented as metaphors, sometimes as illnesses, sometimes as both. This creates the appearance of lies. For example, Slater defines the Greek word "Epilepsia" as "to take, to seize." Then she uses epilepsy as a metaphor for her burgeoning kleptomania: "My body had become epileptic years ago, but when I turned thirteen, so did my soul."
And so, in metaphor and perhaps in reality, Slater seizes; when her mother proves inadequate, when menstruation begins, when her lover cheats.
"Our stories are seizures. They clutch us up. They are spastic grasps, they are losses of consciousness. Epileptics; every one of us. I am not alone."
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