My Thoughts on Emma Straub, Laura Lamont's Life in Pictures

Click on me to buy from Powell's

There were only a handful of moments Laura could think of, in the span of her entire life, when she was unable to identify the seam in between what she felt and what she said or did, moments during which all of the selves that she'd ever been lined up perfectly, with no cracks in between.

I just want to GUSH about this book.  I really loved it.

The wonderful, bookselling Emma Straub's book comes out next Tuesday and everyone should buy it.  It is about a young Wisconsin girl, Elsa Emerson, who dreams of going West to seek some fame.  She grows up in the wings of her father's community theater, amongst the drama of her family of sisters, until she meets another young actor, willing to sweep her away to Hollywood, and that is when the life of Laura Lamont begins.  The title of the book accurately reflects the way it is written: in snapshots of Laura/Elsa's life as she finds herself filling and playing  different roles: both in the movies and in her life. She is a wife and a mother, a sister and friend, and eventually a star.  She sees herself as a multiplicity, like the quote above indicates, sometimes unsure whether her life is its own movie.

If you've read Emma Straub's short story collection, Other People We Married, you already know that her prose is stylish and lovely.  You already know she is clever.  Although the characters in the book are fictional, I found one of the pleasures of reading it to be guessing who they might be based (loosely) upon.  For example, Laura has a spunky redheaded comedienne best friend who becomes a successful TV actress.  I had fun playing guess who with the characters without taking them too seriously.  There are some funny moments in the book, and some unbearably sad ones. The book is stuffed with ruminations on the nature of fame, the differences between life and fiction, and what it means to be a woman, a wife and a mother.  I highly recommend it.

Title: Laura Lamont's Life in Pictures
Author: Emma Straub
 Publisher: Riverhead
Date: 2012
Genre: Literary Fiction

320 pages.
Where I got it: From the publisher through Edelweiss
 Challenges: None


  1. The fact that you want to gush about this book makes me want to read it. It sounds fascinating! Thanks for sharing. :)

    1. It's a good one. I really like Straub's style. I wasn't sure the subject matter was going to appeal to me, but she made it come alive.


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