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“Terrific. . .Rayya’s stories blew mine away.” – Elizabeth Gilbert
“A classic, blood-stained love letter to bohemian NYC.” – Craig Marks
When she was seven, Rayya Elias and her family fled the political conflict in their native Syria, settling in Detroit. Bullied in school and caught between the world of her traditional family and her tough American classmates, she rebelled early.
Elias moved to New York City to become a musician and kept herself afloat with an uncommon talent for cutting hair. At the height of the punk movement, life on the Lower East Side was full of adventure, creative inspiration, and temptation. Eventually, Elias’s passionate affairs with lovers of both sexes went awry, her (more than) occasional drug use turned to addiction, and she found herself living on the streets—between her visits to jail.
This debut memoir charts four decades of a life lived in the moment, a path from harrowing loss and darkness to a place of peace and redemption. Elias’s wit and lack of self-pity in the face of her extreme highs and lows make Harley Loco a powerful read that’s sure to appeal to fans of Patti Smith, Augusten Burroughs, and Eleanor Henderson.
|Publisher:||Penguin Publishing Group|
|Product dimensions:||5.40(w) x 8.00(h) x 0.70(d)|
|Age Range:||18 Years|
About the Author
Rayya Elias was born in Aleppo, Syria, in 1960 and moved to Detroit in 1967. She is a musician, hairdresser, filmmaker, and also sells real estate to make some extra scratch. She lives in New York City and Little York, New Jersey.
Most Helpful Customer Reviews
I was asked to review Harley Loco, a memoir written by a gay ex-junkie hairdresser who was born in Syria and made her way to the drug capital known as the East Village (via Detroit) where she made her name as a hairdresser/punk rock musician (yes, musician) while skipping, like Dorothy going to Oz, through all the rungs of junkie hell. I didn't want to read this book. First of all, I have personal knowledge of the Christian/middle-eastern family structure and any one of this brave girl's trifecta of secrets would take her out. For myself, a book about a world-class junkie who was also a world-class hairdresser? No. I was going on a long train ride and it was on my Kindle so I took a peek. I was surprised to see a preface by Elizabeth Gilbert of Eat, Pray Love, a memoir I found difficult to swallow whole hog. Yet I was intrigued by Gilbert's unabashed adoration of Ms. Elias and her book. There are people who don't want - can't stand - an ordinary life. I know what that feels like. Rayya Elias, the narrator of this absorbing memoir could not tolerate being ordinary. If Eat, Pray, Love varnished the truth to make a good story, Elias left her truth beautifully unvarnished in Harley Loco and wrote a compelling memoir that pulled me in completely. Elias is a brave soul who is a magician at yanking her life out of the fire just as it begins to look like a descent into hard misery or worse. It's like reading a book version of The Perils of Pauline except Elias' perils are heartbreakingly real. With memoirs of the harrowing kind, you want to see redemption, you want a happy ending. This impressive memoir of a gay Syrian hairdresser with a musical bent whose demons come close to destroying her countless times is the happiest of endings.
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