A Mother, a Daughter and a Memoir

An indelible interview of first-time author Ariel Leve.

Ariel Leve cut off communication with her mother three years ago. But the New York-based journalist did reach out recently via Skype, while traveling abroad, to inform mom that her memoir An Abbreviated Life was forthcoming. The book arrived June 14.

That’s just one of many fascinating details in this weekend’s interview of Leve by Jon Ronson for The Guardian. Leve writes in the book that she endured and survived a contentious upbringing on the Upper East Side with her eccentric, famous mom. She tells Ronson that without some recent EMDR therapy, she probably would have been unable to write the memoir.

Leve does not cite her famous mother by name in the book and asked Ronson to do the same in the article (he agreed). After sitting down with the author, Ronson made contact with the mother, despite Leve’s preference that he not do so. He spoke to mom via telephone a few days after the book’s U.S. publication and then her paid a visit on the Upper East Side:

“I was a single parent. I had to make a lot of money to put Ariel in these private schools. Do you think that was easy as a journalist? I killed myself! I got sick working so hard! She never understood that.”

She pauses and does a whiny, mocking impersonation of her daughter: “‘Oh, I want you to be a mommy-mommy. Someone who doesn’t do anything.’ I was voted one of the 100 most outstanding women in America, and one of the 100 most beautiful women in America, which doesn’t mean much, except I was the only one who was in both categories. My dream was to have an interesting life.”

The book comes out in the U.K. July 14. Although other interviews with Leve have been published, this conversation with Ronson was the first the author conducted.

P.S. We’re all familiar with those teaser links at the bottom of an article promising “Related Content.” But in the case of Ronson’s article, there’s one exceptionally well-aligned such element in the bunch: a link to a fall 2015 Guardian excerpt from another memoir, headlined “Drew Barrymore: How I Divorced My Mother.”

Quote courtesy: HarperCollins