Analysis

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Last Reviewed on June 19, 2019, by eNotes Editorial. Word Count: 209

Lying: A Metaphorical Memoir is a book written by Lauren Slater, a clinical mental health psychologist. Charles Dickens once wrote, "a wonderful fact to reflect upon, that every human creature is constituted to be that profound secret and mystery to every other." Slater's book addresses just that issue (that human beings will never entirely understand one another). Mental illnesses underscore this profound mystery; on the one hand, we seek to understand these diseases, but on the other, we humans are invariably inscrutable to each other.

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Slater exploits this conceit by featuring an unreliable narrator (herself, Lauren Slater), who explains, in vivid prose, flashbacks from her childhood with an unstable mother and dismissive father. She explains that she suffered from epilepsy and underwent brain surgery to cure her of seizures. Later, the reader learns that this may or may not have been true, and in fact Slater (who periodically highlights her own unreliability) has Munchhausen's syndrome (which involves compulsive lying).

The blend of lying and storytelling is most pronounced near the novel's end, when Lauren (an aspiring writer as an adult), having attended a series of Alcoholics Anonymous meetings, finally admits to her group that she has been lying about her alcoholic condition. In this instance, she is not believed.

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