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Secret Life: An Autobiography Paperback – June 25, 1996


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Product Details

  • Paperback: 356 pages
  • Publisher: Vintage (June 25, 1996)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0679767762
  • ISBN-13: 978-0679767763
  • Product Dimensions: 7.9 x 5.2 x 1 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 10.4 ounces
  • Average Customer Review: 4.1 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (7 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,762,465 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

Poet Ryan's sexual confession spans from when he was molested at the age of five to his own free-fall into obsessive sexual behavior.
Copyright 1996 Reed Business Information, Inc.

From Library Journal

Celebrated poet Ryan, whose God Hunger (LJ 6/15/89) won the Lenore Marshall/Nation Award, reveals the dark secrets of his childhood?sexual abuse by a neighbor and his father's alcoholism?that have haunted him since.
Copyright 1995 Reed Business Information, Inc. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

Customer Reviews

4.1 out of 5 stars
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews

12 of 12 people found the following review helpful By Helene Hoffman on January 2, 2000
Format: Paperback
I never understood sexual addiction until I read this book. Ryan is incredible - he is able to completely convey what horrors this compulsive behavior meant for him. What said it all to me is when he explained he would go into bars and pick up whomever - a man, a woman . . . it didn't seem to matter! (He wasn't bisexual) Another shocker is that he had an incredible position at Princeton, but just couldn't keep his you-know-what away from his students. All that mattered is that he HAD to have sex, the compulsion was so incredibly intense, he just approached whomever was handy. In addition, this book, surprisingly enough, is amazingly funny (it reminds me of another memoir, "Permanent Midnight" in that way). Sometimes I found myself laughing out loud! It seemed that the humor was a great healer for him. My only regret is that he didn't reveal his treatment, which I would have loved to have learned about, as his compulsion was so deeply engrained. Bravo to him for "coming out of the closet" on this issue, writing this book, and showing us what this compulsion took from him.
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11 of 11 people found the following review helpful By Sal Morano (smorano@ix.netcom.com) on November 7, 1999
Format: Paperback
This is one of the very best books I have ever read about sex addiction. Not only does it present a powerful, gut-wrenching account of what it feels like to be such an addict, it also tells a moving, often tragic, but also inspiring story of growing up in the America of the '50s and '60s.
The author wins you over early as he leads you slowly and painfully through his early childhood and molestation, his memories of his alcoholic father, academic and athletic struggles, peer conflicts, bottoming out in his sex addiction, then seeking recovery through a 12-step program.
Must reading for anyone affiliated in any way at all with any of the nearly half dozen programs dealing with sex/lust addiction. Highly recommended for other 12-step recovery people who might be tempted to snear at sex addiction. Ryan demonstrates that his disease was just as deadly as alcoholism and drug addiction. After reading the book, one realizes it is no laughing matter - regardless of what some sitcoms and commercials say.
Compares well with "Asylum" by Patrick McGrath, also about sex addiction, but, unlike "Secret Life," a novel with the tone of a thriller. Ryan's story is so compelling, one almost feels sorry to put it down but wishes the author well at the end as he embarks on a hopeful journey of recovery.
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6 of 6 people found the following review helpful By Erica K on February 7, 2000
Format: Paperback
This book was tasteful and interesting. I bought and read this book because I saw that my english professor was reading it--I didn't even know what it was about. When I bought it and saw it was about an addiction to sex I felt a little embarrassed--but soon got over it because it's not about sex, it's about a man with an addiction. I reccomend this as a literary read if nothing else. Ryan has true talent.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on January 20, 1997
Format: Hardcover
My Dad used to teach me that no one is "weird", but that we are all people of different backgrounds and experiences. This book shows that truth in the life story of Michael Ryan. It's a brilliant example of the experiences that shape each individual life, for better or worse or sometimes, eventually, both
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