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Disaster Preparedness

A Memoir

Heather Havrilesky


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Other Editions of This Title:
Digital Audiobook (12/29/2010)
MP3 CD (12/30/2010)
Compact Disc (12/30/2010)
Compact Disc (12/30/2010)


"Smart, hilarious, unique-- just terrific." --Anne Lamott

A thoughtful, witty memoir from the author of How to Be a Person in the World and the popular advice column, Ask Polly. 

When Heather Havrilesky was a kid during the '70s, harrowing disaster films dominated every movie screen with earthquakes that destroyed huge cities, airplanes that plummeted towards the ground and giant sharks that ripped teenagers to shreds. Between her parents' dramatic clashes and her older siblings' hazing, Heather's home life sometimes mirrored the chaos onscreen. 

Disaster Preparedness charts how the most humiliating and painful moments in Havrilesky's past forced her to develop a wide range of defense mechanisms, some adaptive, some piteously ill-suited to modern life. From premature boxing lessons to the competitive grooming of cheerleading camp, from her parents' divorce to her father's sudden death, Havrilesky explores a path from innocence and optimism to self-protection and caution, bravely reexamining the injuries that shaped her, the lessons that sunk in along the way, and the insights that carried her through. 

Disaster Preparedness is a road map to the personal disasters we all face from an irresistible voice that gets straight to the beauty and grace at the heart of every calamity.

Praise For Disaster Preparedness: A Memoir

"I love Heather Havrilesky's work, and have been reading her for years. She's smart, hilarious, unique-just terrific." --Anne Lamott 

"Heather Havrilesky's memoir nails the sheer life-or-deathness of the Very Important Things in a suburban kid's world with a shticky self-awareness of how very unimportant they turn out to be." --Elle

"A thoroughly enjoyable exploration of one woman's experience dodging disasters real and imaginary... Havrilesky is unafraid to guide us through her most intimate memories of childhood, motherhood, and everything in between." --San Francisco Chronicle

"Havrilesky takes her own life as the subject... with brutal honesty, a sense of humor, and a willingness to forgive." --The Paris Review Daily

"Finely observed... her tales of feeling like an outsider... have the warmth and familiarity of an old friend." --Salon

"Heather Havrilesky's memoir Disaster Preparedness is about board games, inappropriate boyfriends, Star Wars, kickball, Amy Carter and chain stores - but it's also about life and death, and love and loss. I thought it was great." --AJ Jacobs, author of The Year of Living Biblically and The Guinea Pig Diaries

"Heather Havrilesky captures the weird, chaotic, innocent-but-also-jaded, sweet- but-also-kind-of-rancid essence of childhood in the 1970s. And if that's not enough, she takes us-hilariously, painfully, utterly relatably-through the entropy of being a teenager in the 1980s. At once sharp and tender, Disaster Preparedness both laments and salutes what it means to belong to a family- and indeed an entire culture-that seems inherently unmoored."--Meghan Daum, author of My Misspent Youth and Life Would Be Perfect If I Lived in That House

Riverhead Books, 9781594485466, 256pp.

Publication Date: December 6, 2011

About the Author

Heather Havrilesky is the author of How to Be a Person in the World, originated from her popular advice column, Ask Polly, in New York Magazine's The Cut.  She was a TV critic at Salon for seven years, and her writing has appeared in New York magazine, the Los Angeles Times, Bookforum, the New York Times, and on NPR's All Things Considered.