Books: The Devil, the Lovers, & Me: My Life in Tarot by Kimberlee Auerbach

There is no way that's an actual reading, I thought upon seeing the spread depicted next to the book's Table of Contents. For one thing, it's all Major Arcana, and while I suppose one could do a reading with only the Major Arcana, it's not typical so far as I know. And there's only one reversed card. Either you read with reverses or you don't, but if you do, then (in my experience) there's never only one reversed card (unless you're only reading, say, a three-card spread). But again, I allow that maybe, just maybe, one card in the deck got flipped around. If so, surely it does mean something?

Whatever. Auerbach's book isn't about Tarot anyway, not really. It's a memoir with the clever gimmick of using a different [Major Arcana] Tarot card for each chapter. In this way, Auerbach traces the stories—and lessons—of her life.

The setup is thus: Auerbach goes to see a Tarot reader because she wants answers. Why else would one go? But a lot of people have this idea that Tarot will foretell the future, and while it can, it's really better made for helping a person make sense of things. This is because life is constantly changing. Using Tarot to tell the future only works in that single moment—the "answer" the cards give is predicated on nothing changing. And maybe you don't like change, and you live your days pretty much the same. If so, you probably don't need a pack of cards to tell you the outcome. But if you do, you know, have a life, well, the cards can only say what is likely to happen assuming you continue to live more or less the way you have done.

Not that I intended to lecture or anything.

Anyway, the Tarot reader helps Auerbach make sense of her life, past and present, so that she can face the future with a sort of sense of renewal. Fresh start and all that. The result is a really long Tarot reading in which Auerbach pretty much tells the reader (Tarot and book) her entire life story.

The book is engaging in tone, though I found some of the frame story exchanges between Auerbach and the Tarot reader too pat. I did like the way the cards and placements in the spreads were explained. But again, they're not the point of the book. The point is for Auerbach to tell her anecdotal history in handy chunks. And the stories of her life experiences are interesting; I found I could relate to a lot of them myself (we're from the same generation, I think, though she was a few years ahead of me based on her references—but I loved There's a Monster at the End of This Book too, and at one point did have a purple Le Clic camera).

Of course, I was not a child model (didn't do that until college), nor did I go to artsy schools.

In any case this was a quick and enjoyable read. Not everybody's life is interesting enough for a book, but Auerbach's certainly is. While most of the stories are fixated on boyfriends, and on Auerbach's insecurities and jealousies, she also breaks open her family's emotional dysfunction. Not for mere entertainment value. While it is entertaining, these anecdotes are also enlightening, asking readers to find the places in their own lives where such problems may lie. We're lucky Auerbach is willing to share; not everyone would be so brave and forthcoming. And if we can follow her path, we might be able to have the World too.

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