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Lithium for Medea [Paperback]

Kate Braverman
2.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (2 customer reviews)
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Book Description

March 5 2002
Lithium for Medea is as much a tale of addiction—to sex, drugs, and dysfunctional family chains—as it is one of mothers and daughters, their mutual rebellion and unconscious mimicry. Here is the story according to Rose—the daughter of a narcissistic, emotionally crippled mother and a father who shadowboxes with death in hospital corridors—as she slips deeply and dangerously into the lair of a cocaine-fed artist in the bohemian squalor of Venice. Lithium for Medea sears us with Rose’s breathless, fierce, visceral flight—like a drug that leaves one’s perceptions forever altered.

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About the Author

KATE BRAVERMAN is a native of Los Angeles who grew up surrounded by the counterculture of San Francisco. She has published several novels, including The Incantation of Frida K. (2002), Wonders of the West (1993), Palm Latitudes (1988), and Lithium for Medea (1979), books of poetry—Postcards from August (1990), Hurricane Warnings (1987), Lullaby for Sinners (1980), and Milkrun (1977)—and a collection of stories, Squandering the Blue (1990). She won the O. Henry Award in 1992.

Customer Reviews

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Most helpful customer reviews
4.0 out of 5 stars Impressed, but not overly so. March 4 2003
Format:Paperback
Maybe I expected it to be better, but I found parts of this book a chore to wade through.
I appreciate that in real life people do go over and over the same scenes in their head, but it felt like Braverman had simply cut and pasted paragraphs from one chapter to another.
I guess I'm not the kind of reader who enjoys rereading sections for their lyricism, so I felt like I was being forced to do so against my will.
Hard to complain because it is so much better than most of the stuff I have read lately. That being said, I'd recommend Mark of an Angel, Virgin Suicides, and Ice Storm prior to this.
Perhaps if you are a drug addict with a cancerous gambler for a Dad, you will find that this is a perfect snapshot of your life and a motivating force. But for someone on the outside looking in, it's simply a very well written book about these people that repeats itself just a couple times more than I would have liked.
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1.0 out of 5 stars boring, pseudo-poetic, overitten Nov. 8 2003
Format:Paperback
I was utterly disappointed in the quality of fiction an indie (very interesting and likeable too) publishing house like "Seven Stories Press" backs and publishes. Braverman's novel is a fake; a laughably overwritten composition: just like an dreamy adolescent's diary it's wildly in love with words(four to five adjectives before every single noun), and it teems with metaphors, pseudopoetic images and repetitions. This is supposed to be a memoir of family tensions, love gone sour, addiction and death; nevertheless, it reads like an overlong, overwritten and very clumsy poem on Los Angeles, full of cliches and borrowed phrases. I wonder what made Ricky Moody write the preface: public relations can be real tricky.
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews on Amazon.com (beta)
Amazon.com: 3.8 out of 5 stars  12 reviews
8 of 9 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Anniversary Jan. 16 2006
By M. Albert - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Paperback
Few people know that 2006 is the 25th anniversary of the first pubication of "Lithium for Medea," Kate Braverman's glittering and riveting first novel. Setting her book in the many odd facets of the Los Angeles in which she grew up, a land of the disaffected and disenfranchised, she opens the city in a way that few writers have even attempted to do. She illustrates and paints it in its own dark spectrum of blues, from the undiminished powderpuff blue of its cloudless morning sky to the bruised indigo of its desperate nights. She fills it with alienated people doing irreversible damage to themselves and others. At the heart of her novel is a life-and-death struggle between a mother and daughter who are in many ways more similar than they even wish to be. The daughter expresses her bottomless depression and sense of alienation by sinking into a world of abusive relationships and destructive substances. This is not a book that speaks to everyone; only those who are capable of examining the darkest aspects of the world in which they live can open to and appreciate Braverman's perceptions, or even her prose, which has the faultless savagery and cadence of a well-wrought poem.

To celebrate its silver anniversary, "Lithium" has been republished with a reprint of the wonderful preface by writer and admirer Rick Moody. It's an underground monument to American life worth reading and owning, and Braverman is one of our most unique, most authentic authors.
10 of 12 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Women, Beautifully-Crafted Prose, and Drug Addiction Jan. 30 2000
By Helene Hoffman - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Paperback
This book is tremendous, and I agree with the other review: Get This Book Back Into Print! Braverman began as a poet, and you can see it in her own unique style. After reading her incredible prose, you'll understand why she has been nominated for the Pulitzer Prize in Poetry. The story is about a woman heavily addicted to cocaine, whose dad is heavily into gambling ("the horses") and is also afflicted with cancer. It's about the woman's struggle to get away from both the white powder as well as from the bad men who've helped her get addicted. You will not read better-crafted prose than this novel...
12 of 15 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A powerful, original voice . Aug. 2 1998
By A Customer - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Paperback
This is a commanding novel that is unafraid to explore areas left untouched by other novelists. Braverman is equally unafraid of using language that is rich and at the same time exact. Scenes in this novel linger long after one has finished reading it. That it is out of print is a harsh indictment on the publishing industry, with its seemingly apathetic attitude toward excellent writing like Braverman's. When will publishers face their duty to preserving literature?
5 of 6 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Lithium For Medea June 9 2006
By David Morini - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Paperback
From start to finish Kate Braverman forces the reader into a fun house, a meat grinder, turning and forcing you to experience a well oiled intensity. At times the writing is caustic, biting and poisonous. Poison to the emotions, a drug that invokes passion. The atmosphere is vivid and surreal for the reader though, at times, not for the narrator. A superb book. Each line is finely tuned and crafted like music, rich in images and color like photography and still is able to shake the humanity through the novel. Highly recommended especially for other writers.
10 of 14 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A Paean Validating Kate Braverman's "Lithium For Medea"' Sept. 18 2001
By "lydiahazen" - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Paperback
I've read this book and have taken its significance personally.
However, the lyricism stands above that of male authors who
originally capitalized on the trend to glorify, explain and
identify with abuse of cocaine.
And it isn't that simple. I commend Kate Braverman for not taking a simplified polemic view of "rehabilitation." Writing something versed in poetry and greek tradition draws out the tragedy much more poignantly than anything else I've ever read.
The language employed in this novel elevates it to art. And I just can't say that about contemporaneous works on the same subject written by male authors.
So Reprint, Reprint, Reprint, and realize that other women of my generation might deign to listen to a genuine, artistic, beautiful rendition of something with which they may identify.
Sincerely,
Lydia Hazen
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