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The Things We Do for Love

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The Things We Do for Love: Stories of My Life, by Ruhama Veltfort

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What Do the Critics Say?

“Ruhama Veltfort’s The Things We Do for Love is a mine of personal experience mingling with universal emotion and sharp observation. The writing is crisp and intimate, with reflections that move between birth and death, love, loss, growing pains and motherhood. This is writing so intensely honest, that the reader is forced to look at his or her own life in an entirely new way.”

— Magdalena Ball, The Compulsive Reader,

“Ruhama Veltfort has followed her critically acclaimed first novel The Promised Land with an exploration of a more personal, interior landscape in her new memoir, The Things We Do for Love. As she traverses a continent in search of love and affirmation, nothing upon her shaky earthquakeprone ground of memory and emotion gets completely out of hand, no matter how rough the road. No traveler, however transient, gets completely lost. Somehow, somewhere, humanity and decency manage to prevail, arriving at a destiny. And that is the point.”

— Allen Tobias, New York Arts and Culture Critic for and author of Allen Ginsberg: The Triumph of His Early Years, A Critical Biography, 1926-1966

“Ruhama Veltfort's new novel The Things We Do For Love: Stories of My Life is a perfect picture of the 60s in both California and New York seen by a young woman caught up in the prevailing ethic, a combination of political ethical sensibilities and personal search for connection (remember the 60s: sex,drugs, rock n roll, and religious expansion). Her novel is also a beautiful, poignant exploration of universal themes of loss, connection and the cycles of life; how life can surprise us with the most wonderful enfolding. The first part of the title might remind one of a self-help book on co-dependency but the second part of the title lets you know it is not a preachy prescription for fixing yourself or anyone else but instead the honest examination of a life lived in real time. Well worth reading and savoring.”

— Kate Mack, reviewer

“I greatly enjoyed reading The Things We Do For Love. Each chapter tells a story from the author's life, and what an interesting life it's been! It was a perfect companion on my train trip- it was like having an old friend catch me up on everything that had happened over the years. I also like the use of timeline, the feel of a story, but not overused to create confusion, like, say my Aunt-in-law, who I can't follow. THIS I could follow, and was an engrossed traveller.”

— Erik I. Walker, Portland, Oregon

“These life stories are absorbing and moving. They are written without judgment, but with a clear retrospective wisdom, honesty and some irony. The writing is rich with descriptions, details, and insights into each decade and the vivid memories of each experience. The stories are subtly tied together with themes and threads that continue to reappear throughout. If you have ever deeply considered: fathers, parenting, psychology, happiness, consciousness, personal development (to mention only a few), you will find much in this book to ponder and discuss.”

— Jill Jeffrey, reviewer

“Ruhama Veltfort's latest published outing accomplishes what few who attempt to tread the minefield of personal memoirs succeed at, namely, a coherent narrative that trawls one's interest in its wake. The Things We Do for Love: Stories of My Life sidesteps the chest wound hemorrhaging so capable of undermining credibility of even the most interesting telling of lives. Ms. Velfort's dispassionate approach to describing extremely passionate biographical motifs allows fresh air to circulate around each word. The absence of self-conscious clutter is refreshing. At times, it felt as though this reviewer was breathing, rather than reading, her sentences. Her descriptions of locale and the attending import of situation reveal an author possessed with a true talent for translating events into observations. One example follows, ‘ . . . greasy aromas and immigrant shadows sealed in the walls of the old tenements, ghost languages in the streets.’

“The Things We Do for Love appears to be structured loosely as a trilogy of memoirs. The first part invites the reader to Ms. Veltfort's childhood in Cape Ann, Massachusetts and surrounding environs. This section of the book provides the reader with a chronologically linear perspective of her young life and the family and friends who populate and shape it.

“Then suddenly, mid-chapter (Your Fortune: Love and Marriage) a radical departure from the usual anchors of time and location transports the reader into her fractured young adulthood, a pulsing montage of lovers, marriages, children, drugs, rock stars and friends whose lives reflect the so-called times. In this second part, chronology disappears, leaving the reader at times confused as to the where and when of happenstance. But this shift from linearity is no oversight. A disjointed life deserves a narration consistent with chaos, uncertainty, and one woman's struggle to make sense of it.

“The final and longest chapter of the book constitutes the end of the trilogy. It is called “The Trauma of Birth,” a title associated with Ms. Veltfort's status as granddaughter to Otto Rank, the famed Viennese psychoanalyst and close associate of Freud who posited that reaction to birth is instrumental in the formation of the newborn's personality and in the general human condition. In this chapter, Ms. Veltfort somewhat turns her back to the reader and instead speaks more directly to her son, given up for adoption when the author was 23 years old. Thirty-one years later she discovers the young man living only five blocks from her in the Mission District of San Francisco. What follows is the tale of a reunion so poignant yet free of sentimentality that the reader is forced into contemplating how she or he might have handled this most unusual of circumstances.

“This reviewer rates Ms. Veltfort's memoirs a full five stars and strongly suggests that you procure a copy of the book while it remains in its first edition.”

— Harry Huges, author of The Bait Shack and the soon to be released Horseshoes.

“Travelling back and forth from the East and West coasts of the US, and also back and forth in time, after the first stories relating to the 1960's and 70's, I thought, "My God, she was as wild as I was!" and then later, ", wilder!" It is not often that people can speak of those days without embarrassment, bragging, discounting or remorse, and Ruhama Veltfort just tells it like it is, not judging or agrandizing herself but making it clear how she felt and thought at each stage of her life. We get the rare combination of a youthful view as later seen by a compassionate but realistic wise woman. Throughout her writing, there is a strong sense of true self and centeredness, of accepting life as it presents itself and learning to surf its ocean, though at times, she may have felt she was plunging into its depths, not knowing where she'd come up.

“This is really a fully developed life story, when read in entirety, and not just completely separate stories, even though there is not an adherance to chronology, and even though each story fully stands on its own. I couldn't put it down, not because I needed to know the next in a sequence of events, but because I wanted to know more about the author and her fascinating life and perspective. The book taken as a whole does build and you want to find out where she's taking you. The final chapter is dynamite (brought tears, in fact), and, part of its beauty results from what you've already learned about the writer.

“It's just really great writing. She's a very engaging story teller, and the detail remembered brought back my own memories, like watching a movie of places I'd been and people I'd known.

“It's really a tale of becoming a mother and learning to juggle one's yearning for experience with real devotion to one's offspring, but also to one's soul. A deeper love is discovered, one that transcends attachment to our hopes for The Right Man (or Woman).”

— Francine Falk-Allen, reviewer

“I must tell you that I've got about 10 books that urgently require my attention, so I promised myself that I'd glance at your book but then put it aside. And got completely engrossed, unable to do anything except read it yesterday until I was done. Really beautifully constructed; I was turning pages as though it were a thriller.”

— D.M.

“Fabulous book. An honest story that caught me laughing out loud while at the same time I was both comforted and properly scared. ...There is the intrigue, the crazy choices, and then the settling out over time of a truer knowing of self. ... In a layered flow the reader hears the perspective of the child, young woman, and wise woman. This story brings life to history ... to see the realtiy of a person in it. I love finding a really great book, totally visceral, i am a wow inside about it. I read till 2am, trying to read slow, but it was one of those books I get greedy about. A book to savor and reread.”

— Amina

“Anyone who hasn't read her wonderful book The Things We Do for Love is missing a huge treat, I just devoured it, tried to pace myself but it was so tasty and full of wisdom and wit I couldn't help myself. Do yourself a favor, go to amazon and get it. you will thank yourself. All our lives are in there by one perspective or another, as parents, seekers, drug addled hippies or beatniks, acid heads, tree huggers, intellectuals, pacifists, warriors, gypsies and sluts. You must read this book!”

–Jane Watkins