The Draw: A Memoir (Hardcover)
Farrar, Straus and Giroux, 9780374178055, 272pp.
Publication Date: April 4, 2017
A young boy's awakening to the conflict between innate gifts and social class is at the center of this searing memoir about the unforgiving sovereignty of money
Hoping to make a killing in New Jersey real estate, the author's father, Monroe Siegel, takes a draw from his employer against unearned commission. When the recession hits in the 1970s, Monroe finds himself owing a small fortune to his firm. He sinks toward divorce and bankruptcy, while Lola, Lee's mother, suffers a nervous breakdown that turns her into a different person.
Shamed and enraged by his father's fate, Lee grows up wondering what society owes a person who has failed materially but preserved his humanity. Other men got rewarded for their cold-heartedness, and often for their dishonesty, while he, Monroe Siegel, who had never hurt anyone, had to groan and stumble through life. Did not kindness deserve an income?
As a teen, Lee tries to make a different life for himself. He goes to a private college in the Midwest, is forced to leave due to his father's bankruptcy, and returns to New Jersey to work a series of menial jobs. He enrolls at a state college and then drops out to seek a better existence abroad, only to return to the United States in debt and in despair. Suddenly, a promising new life opens to him. At a price.
The Draw touches on fundamental questions: How do we balance our obligations to ourselves with our obligations to others? What do we owe society when its rules have a legal basis but not a moral one? Written with startling candor and psychological acuity, Lee Siegel s The Draw is for anyone who has ever struggled with money, or who has tried to break through the barriers of family and class.