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The Rules Do Not Apply
Cover of The Rules Do Not Apply
The Rules Do Not Apply
A Memoir
NEW YORK TIMES BESTSELLER • "This Year's Must-Read Memoir" (W magazine) about the choices a young woman makes in her search for adventure, meaning, and love

NAMED ONE OF THE BEST BOOKS OF THE YEAR BY
Vogue
  • Time
  • Esquire
  • Entertainment Weekly
  • The Guardian
  • Harper's Bazaar
  • Library Journal
  • NPR
    All her life, Ariel Levy was told that she was too fervent, too forceful, too much. As a young woman, she decided that becoming a writer would perfectly channel her strength and desire. She would be a professional explorer—"the kind of woman who is free to do whatever she chooses." Levy moved to Manhattan to pursue her dream, and spent years of adventure, traveling all over the world writing stories about unconventional heroines, following their fearless examples in her own life.
    But when she experiences unthinkable heartbreak, Levy is forced to surrender her illusion of control. In telling her story, Levy has captured a portrait of our time, of the shifting forces in American culture, of what has changed and what has remained. And of how to begin again.
    Praise for The Rules Do Not Apply
    "Unflinching and intimate, wrenching and revelatory, Ariel Levy's powerful memoir about love, loss, and finding one's way shimmers with truth and heart on every page."—Cheryl Strayed
    "Every deep feeling a human is capable of will be shaken loose by this profound book. Ariel Levy has taken grief and made art out of it."—David Sedaris
    "Beautifully crafted . . . This book is haunting; it is smart and engaging. It was so engrossing that I read it in a day."The New York Times Book Review
    "Levy's wise and poignant memoir is the voice of a new generation of women, full of grit, pathos, truth, and inspiration. Being in her presence is energizing and ennobling. Reading her deep little book is inspiring."San Francisco Book Review

    "Levy has the rare gift of seeing herself with fierce, unforgiving clarity. And she deploys prose to match, raw and agile. She plumbs the commotion deep within and takes the measure of her have-it-all generation."The Atlantic
    "Cheryl Strayed meets a Nora Ephron movie. You'll laugh, ugly cry, and finish it before the weekend's over."theSkimm
  • NEW YORK TIMES BESTSELLER • "This Year's Must-Read Memoir" (W magazine) about the choices a young woman makes in her search for adventure, meaning, and love

    NAMED ONE OF THE BEST BOOKS OF THE YEAR BY
    Vogue
  • Time
  • Esquire
  • Entertainment Weekly
  • The Guardian
  • Harper's Bazaar
  • Library Journal
  • NPR
    All her life, Ariel Levy was told that she was too fervent, too forceful, too much. As a young woman, she decided that becoming a writer would perfectly channel her strength and desire. She would be a professional explorer—"the kind of woman who is free to do whatever she chooses." Levy moved to Manhattan to pursue her dream, and spent years of adventure, traveling all over the world writing stories about unconventional heroines, following their fearless examples in her own life.
    But when she experiences unthinkable heartbreak, Levy is forced to surrender her illusion of control. In telling her story, Levy has captured a portrait of our time, of the shifting forces in American culture, of what has changed and what has remained. And of how to begin again.
    Praise for The Rules Do Not Apply
    "Unflinching and intimate, wrenching and revelatory, Ariel Levy's powerful memoir about love, loss, and finding one's way shimmers with truth and heart on every page."—Cheryl Strayed
    "Every deep feeling a human is capable of will be shaken loose by this profound book. Ariel Levy has taken grief and made art out of it."—David Sedaris
    "Beautifully crafted . . . This book is haunting; it is smart and engaging. It was so engrossing that I read it in a day."The New York Times Book Review
    "Levy's wise and poignant memoir is the voice of a new generation of women, full of grit, pathos, truth, and inspiration. Being in her presence is energizing and ennobling. Reading her deep little book is inspiring."San Francisco Book Review

    "Levy has the rare gift of seeing herself with fierce, unforgiving clarity. And she deploys prose to match, raw and agile. She plumbs the commotion deep within and takes the measure of her have-it-all generation."The Atlantic
    "Cheryl Strayed meets a Nora Ephron movie. You'll laugh, ugly cry, and finish it before the weekend's over."theSkimm
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    Excerpts-
    • From the book Chapter 1

      My favorite game when I was a child was Mummy and Explorer. My father and I would trade off roles: One of us had to lie very still with eyes closed and arms crossed over the chest, and the other had to complain, "I've been searching these pyramids for so many years—­when will I ever find the tomb of Tutankhamun?" (This was in the late seventies when Tut was at the Met, and we came in from the suburbs to visit him frequently.) At the climax of the game, the explorer stumbles on the embalmed Pharaoh and—­brace yourself—­the mummy opens his eyes and comes to life. The explorer has to express shock, and then say, "So, what's new?" To which the mummy replies, "You."

      I was not big on playing house. I preferred make-­believe that revolved around adventure, starring pirates and knights. I was also domineering, impatient, relentlessly verbal, and, as an only child, often baffled by the mores of other kids. I was not a popular little girl. I played Robinson Crusoe in a small wooden fort my parents built from a kit in the backyard, where I sorted through the acorns and onion grass I gathered for sustenance. In the fort, I was neither ostracized nor ill at ease—­I was self-­reliant, brave, ingeniously surviving, if lost.

      Books are the other natural habitat for a child who loves words and adventures, and I was content when my parents read me Moby-­Dick, Pippi Longstocking, or The Hobbit. I decided early that I would be a writer when I grew up. That, I thought, was the profession that went with the kind of woman I wanted to become: one who is free to do whatever she chooses.

      I started keeping a diary in the third grade and, in solidarity with Anne Frank, I named it and personified it and made it my confidante. "The point that prompted me to keep a diary in the first place: I don't have a friend," Frank told Kitty, her journal. Writing is communicating with an unknown intimate who is always available, the way the faithful can turn to God. My lined notebooks were the only place I could say as much as I wanted, whenever I wanted. To this day I feel comforted and relieved of loneliness, no matter how foreign my surroundings, if I have a pad and a pen.

      As a journalist, I've spent nearly two decades putting myself in foreign surroundings as frequently as possible. There is nothing I love more than traveling to a place where I know nobody, and where everything will be a surprise, and then writing about it. It's like having a new lover—­even the parts you aren't crazy about have the crackling fascination of the unfamiliar.

      The first story I ever published was about another world only an hour from my apartment. I was twenty-­two, living in the East Village in a sixth-­floor walk-­up with a roommate and roaches, working as an assistant at New York magazine. My friend Mayita was an intern in the photo department who knew about a nightclub for obese women in Queens. We talked about it during our lunch break, when we were walking around midtown Manhattan with our plastic containers of limp salad, dreading going back to the office.

      I was not a key member of the staff. It was my job to take the articles the writers faxed over and type them into the computer system—­it was 1996, email was still viewed as a curious phenomenon that might blow over. Also, I had to input the crossword puzzle by looking back and forth between the paper the puzzle-­crafter sent me and my computer screen, trying to remember if it went black, black, white, black, or black, white, black, black. I was in a constant state of embittered self-­righteousness at the office. How had I been...
    About the Author-
    • Ariel Levy joined The New Yorker as a staff writer in 2008, and received the National Magazine Award for Essays and Criticism in 2014 for her piece "Thanksgiving in Mongolia." She is the author of the book Female Chauvinist Pigs, and was a contributing editor at New York for twelve years.
    Reviews-
    • Publisher's Weekly

      January 2, 2017
      In this dark and absorbing memoir, Levy (Female Chauvinist Pigs), a staff writer for the New Yorker, recounts her complicated life and, with stunning clarity, reveals that the best laid plans can be sidetracked. As a child in Larchmont, N.Y., Levy was taught that she could achieve anything she wanted. Her mother encouraged her to make her own rules, with one caveat: never become dependent upon a man. As a successful young writer in the 1990s (first for New York magazine), Levy traveled widely, writing primarily on the topic of sexuality and gender. At 28, she fell in love with and married a 41-year-old woman with substance abuse problems. Though Levy longed for motherhood and a comfortable life, she also had a “compulsion” for adventure. Ten years later she got pregnant with the help of a sperm donor and then suffered a miscarriage while on assignment in Mongolia. Levy took a writerly approach to the narrative of her own life, believing that her personal story would unfold as if she had penned it. Her awakening to the fact that life doesn’t always cooperate with one’s plan is raw and compelling. Though some of the lessons learned in this memorable story are painful, Levy ultimately finds redemption in her ability to glimpse the light beyond the darkness, and to gain a deepening gratitude for friends, family, and her profession.

    • Library Journal

      April 15, 2017

      For some readers, this stellar work will evoke memories, as author (Female Chauvinist Pigs) and New Yorker staff writer Levy first wrote of the catalyzing events depicted here in a New Yorker piece, "Thanksgiving in Mongolia." However, this account ranges further afield. With intensity and grace, Levy unpacks her courtship, marriage, affair, pregnancy, the premature birth and death of her child, her wife's alcoholism, their separation, and divorce in a scant 200-plus pages, yet her writing feels expansive. Readers will find a compelling meditation on what it means to be female, to be married, and to explore the boundaries and contexts that surround personhood, marriage, desire, and aspiration. This title serves to remind readers, as well as the author, that while rules exist, they need not ultimately define us. VERDICT Levy uses her considerable talents, presented in raw, genuinely felt prose, to bring readers into deeply personal experiences that resonate on a visceral level. (Memoir, 2/20/17; ow.ly/B6Ub30a5C5W)--Rachael Dreyer, Eberly Family Special Collections Lib., Pennsylvania State Univ.

      Copyright 2017 Library Journal, LLC Used with permission.

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