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Lives Other Than My Own: A Memoir [Hardcover]

Emmanuel Carrère , Linda Coverdale
4.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (1 customer review)
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Book Description

Sept. 13 2011

From the acclaimed Emmanuel Carrère, an act of generous imagination that unflinchingly records devastating loss and, equally vividly, the wealth of human solace that follows in its wake

In Sri Lanka, a tsunami sweeps a child out to sea, her grand-father helpless against the onrushing water. In France, a young woman succumbs to illness, leaving her husband and small children bereft. Present at both events, Emmanuel Carrère sets out to tell the story of two families—shattered and ultimately restored. What he accomplishes is nothing short of a literary miracle: a heartrending narrative of endless love, a meditation on courage and decency in the face of adversity, an intimate and reverent look at the extraordinary beauty and nobility of ordinary lives.

Precise, sober, and suspenseful, as full of twists and turns as any novel, Lives Other Than My Own confronts terrifying catastrophes to illuminate the astonishing richness of human connection: a grandfather who thought he had found paradise—too soon—and now devotes himself to helping his neighbors rebuild their village; a husband so in love with his ailing wife that he carries her in his arms like a knight does his princess; and finally, Carrère himself, longtime chronicler of the tormented self, who unexpectedly finds consolation and even joy as he immerses himself in the lives of others.

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“Travelling in Sri Lanka in 2004, Carrère becomes close to a couple whose daughter dies in the tsunami. Upon his return to Paris, he learns that his girlfriend’s sister Juliette is dying of cancer. In this moving memoir, Carrère writes as ‘a witness to those two misfortunes,’ constructing an intimate history of each family before and after its loss. His prose is precise and measured, especially in the account of Juliette and her husband, and their ‘always new, always deeply moving’ love. Through interviews with friends and relatives of both families, Carrère creates powerful portraits that celebrate ordinary lives.”
The New Yorker
“Gratifying and surprising... It is a book about the texture and resonance of loss, about how we live with and through immeasurable grief. It took me inside the nuances and crevices of experiences and ideas I had never given thought to before: French bankruptcy law, living without a limb, believing a loved one to be dead and gone and then being reunited. Carrère covers a lot of ground with cool honesty and careful humanity. I identified, completely.”
—Sally Singer, The New York Times

“In Lives Other Than My Own, Emmanuel Carrère demonstrates that empathy can be the antidote to alienation, if we try for it.  With the finely measured assurance of Chekhov, he achieves something altogether unexpected in modern literature: beatitude.”
—Gary Indiana, author of The Shanghai Gesture and Three Month Fever

“Yet again, Carrère has written a masterpiece. With his singular blend of reportage, detective fiction, and autobiography, he has produced an achingly beautiful, wholly unforgettable portrait of lives racked by tragedy and redeemed by love.”
—Caroline Weber, author of Queen of Fashion

“A powerful story of happiness wrenched from despair. Once the tempest has passed, words remain, and what words they are!”
Le Nouvel Observateur

About the Author

Emmanuel Carrère, novelist, filmmaker, journalist, and biographer, is the award-winning internationally renowned author of The Adversary (a New York Times Notable Book), Lives Other Than My Own, My Life As A Russian Novel, Class Trip and The Mustache. Carrère lives in Paris.

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4.0 out of 5 stars resilience after loss May 5 2014
Format:Kindle Edition|Verified Purchase
This is a very moving book. While the story it tells is essentially tragic, the conclusion is hopeful. The book is attribute to those who have lost deeply loved family members, but who have withstood and prevailed over their losses. To life!
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews on (beta) 4.6 out of 5 stars  11 reviews
2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Easy entry March 19 2012
By nancyv - Published on
Format:Hardcover|Verified Purchase
The book was so easy to get into! Often it takes me awhile to decide if I am really interested in a book I have chosen! Not so with this author. I have subsequentally pursued his other books and enjoyed them all. Thumbs up for his writing. NLV
2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Heart rending March 9 2012
By s mp carosso - Published on
This is a book I will recommend over the years to come. In my view, it demonstrates brilliantly the superiority of non fiction over fiction. The stories as told, are so universal, yet so personal, so enthralling and yet it is intelligent and informative narration. It does teach you about the French legal system but goes so much further. I was in tears, shaken to the core when I read it and I would gladly buy it as a present to all the people I care for. It has not been ignored by the way: it was lauded with praise in France in 2009 when it came out and I have yet to meet someone who did not rave about it. You have to take my word for it: I do not know the author personally, I don't work in publishing ( in 2010 I did contact POL to ask them when it would be translated to English and I was amazed to find out that they had no idea) and have no vested interest in this other than benefiting from the fact that such work is published and that, we, human beings, are better off for it.
1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Stunning and heart wrenching, but a tad self centered May 28 2012
By D. Burke - Published on
Format:Kindle Edition|Verified Purchase
The losses described in beautifully-written book took my breath away and brought to life something I have never come close to experiencing in reality. At times, the author slipped into naval gazing, but ultimately, I was profoundly moved and enjoyed the artful yet accessible writing very much.
1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars powerful book Jan. 22 2012
By Scarlett - Published on
Format:Kindle Edition
Lives other then my own is often coming back to me since I read it. It is a condensed mix of the most powerful human emotions that occurs in the 2 most unfair events of lives: the death of a child and the death of a young mother. The book describing 2 true stories,it is as close as the human soul as you can get, and depicts the dignity of some of us in the face of the unspeakable.
5.0 out of 5 stars Moving April 30 2014
By Max - Published on
Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
A moving account of life amidst tragedy written with depth, feeling, and understanding. This book should be read together with "my life as a russian novel" to appreciate Carrere's personal life among it all.
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