An intense memoir about mental illness, memory and storytelling, from an acclaimed novelist.
When Rob Roberge learns that he's likely to have developed a progressive memory-eroding disease from years of hard living and frequent concussions, he is terrified by the prospect of becoming a walking shadow. In a desperate attempt to preserve his identity, he sets out to (somewhat faithfully) record the most formative moments of his life—ranging from the brutal murder of his childhood girlfriend, to a diagnosis of rapid-cycling bipolar disorder, to opening for famed indie band Yo La Tengo at The Fillmore in San Francisco. But the process of trying to remember his past only exposes just how fragile the stories that lay at the heart of our self-conception really are.
As Liar twists and turns through Roberge’s life, it turns the familiar story of sex, drugs, and rock ‘n’ roll on its head. Darkly funny and brutally frank, it offers a remarkable portrait of a down and out existence cobbled together across the country, from musicians’ crashpads around Boston, to seedy bars popular with sideshow freaks in Florida, to a painful moment of reckoning in the scorched Wonder Valley desert of California. As Roberge struggles to keep addiction and mental illness from destroying the good life he has built in his better moments, he is forced to acknowledge the increasingly blurred line between the lies we tell others and the lies we tell ourselves.
Liar: A Memoirby Rob Roberge
Wow. After reading this book I had to step back just a bit and evaluate my own life. I am nothing like Rob Roberge, but somehow he went from a seemingly normal-ish person, to a drug and sex addict so why couldn't I? Why couldn't we all? What path would lead a person down that road? These were all questions running through my head while I was reading this stunning memoir. This book is deep and dark, and quite dangerous. I'm sure there are many people out there who can closely relate to this memoir; I am not one of them.
I felt deeply sad for Rob throughout most of this book. He seemed hopeless, and helpless. When he finally gathered the courage to do something right, it seemed like everything crumbled yet again. What an interesting and scary life. I am thankful that Mr. Roberge was able to write this book and be honest about his struggles with drugs and alcohol. I am mortal. I am just as pliable as anybody else. Rob could be anyone, because often there is shame and stigma surrounding addictions, and those we love could be dealing with something we don't have any inkling of. They could be like Rob, staring death in the face, and we might not know.
Or, we might but we don't know how to help them. This book is by no means a handbook or guide for helping a loved one recover from an addiction, instead it is an open and forthright look at a life in ruins. Ruins that were made by the one living that life. If there was a higher age rating, I might stick it on this book, simply because of the horrific content it contains. When you read this book, be sure you are in a good place in your life, so that the examples given do not pull you down into a spiral of depression.
Review of an Advance Reader Copy
Profanity/Language: 1 religious exclamation; 5 mild obscenities; 3 derogatory names; 7 scatological words; 14 anatomical terms; 45 F-Word derivatives.
Violence/Gore: A minor is killed in the woods and mentioned to be bludgeoned and tortured (this is a mention, but it is quite a graphic picture that is painted); a man has suicidal thoughts; the Titanic is mentioned, as well as people drowning and dead bodies that are found; a man is mentioned to be punched, nose bleeding; a rape and murder is reported; a man and woman are mentioned to have violent sex; a man shoots his wife, but claims it was an accident, no casualties occur; a man is reported to have hurt himself intentionally with a rock; a report is made of a woman hanging herself; a man trips and injures himself, gashes are mentioned so deep that he could see bones, blood; a man intentionally burns himself with a lighter; a police officer is verbally abusive in a brief scene; 3 minor females are mentioned to have been raped and murdered; a head injury is mentioned with some blood mentioned; a man has multiple concussions over several years; a man is mentioned to be so sick from drug use that he coughs up blood; death is mentioned and fantasized about.
Sex/Nudity: Minors hold hands; a man and woman sleep together in a non-sexual way (the man is straight, the woman proclaims herself a lesbian); a man is mentioned to be dressed in drag and be turned on; a woman is described as a stripper, and dressed in barely anything; a man recalls being dressed in only a coat as a joke, referred to as a pervert; an unmarried couple moves in together; an unmarried couple have sex and S&M scenes occur several times; a man is sexually active in multiple scenes with various women; a man recalls how he lost his virginity to an older woman; a page-long sex scene occurs between a man and a woman with some explicit detail; a woman is referred to as a whore; a man is sexually promiscuous; a woman hits a man while having sex for pleasure; an oral sex scene is briefly given with some explicit detail; a man mentions porn.
Mature Subject Matter:
Death, sex identity issues, mental illness, self-harm, rape, murder, depression, addictions, suicide.
Alcohol / Drug Use:
Minors drink; pot users are mentioned; coke is mentioned; a meth head is mentioned; a man identifies as an addict to multiple substances; a man smokes; an accidental overdose is mentioned to occur; a man claims to be happy only when he is high; heroin is mentioned; drunk driving is mentioned; a death from an overdose is mentioned.
Reviewed By Lydia