Lipsett may once have been accused (in these pages) of using tabloid events to feed her fiction (Remember Me, 1991, Out of Danger, 1987, etc.), but, as this remarkable memoir makes clear, her writing springs full-blown from her own life--a life rich, heartbreaking, and real enough to reduce any tabloid story to mush. After her mother died in childbirth, four-year-old Lipsett's father sought to shelter his daughter by never displaying grief and never permitting any discussion of his dead wife. Lipsett grew up ``rudderless'' with no memory of her mother. When her father remarried and started a new family, she found herself a permanent outsider, an experience apparently still wounding enough that she can barely touch on the details here. She went on to endure still more, including a horrifying rape when she was in her twenties and two bouts of breast cancer in her forties. The weight of this many crises could sink any fictional plot; what's striking here is that, of all Lipsett's books, this one--her own story--seems the least steeped in sorrow. It is, above all else, a book about writing and what Lipsett recounts with courage, grace and no shortage of humor is what it means to live a writer's life, despite (or, perhaps, because of) all the odds. Sure to appeal to writers and wannabe's, but compelling reading for any audience.