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Life's Work

By David Milch
Life's Work by David Milch digital book - Fable

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Publisher Description

The creator of Deadwood and NYPD Blue reflects on his tumultuous life, driven by a nearly insatiable creative energy and a matching penchant for self-destruction. Life’s Work is a profound memoir from a brilliant mind taking stock as Alzheimer’s loosens his hold on his own past.

“This is David Milch’s farewell, and it will rock you.”—Susan Orlean, author of The Orchid Thief


“I’m on a boat sailing to some island where I don’t know anybody. A boat someone is operating and we aren’t in touch.” So begins David Milch’s urgent accounting of his increasingly strange present and often painful past. From the start, Milch’s life seems destined to echo that of his father, a successful if drug-addicted surgeon. Almost every achievement is accompanied by an act of self-immolation, but the deepest sadnesses also contain moments of grace.

Betting on racehorses and stealing booze at eight years old, mentored by Robert Penn Warren and excoriated by Richard Yates at twenty-one, Milch never did anything by half. He got into Yale Law School only to be expelled for shooting out streetlights with a shotgun. He paused his studies at the Iowa Writers’ Workshop to manufacture acid in Cuernavaca. He created and wrote some of the most lauded television series of all time, made a family, and pursued sobriety, then lost his fortune betting horses just as his father had taught him.

Like Milch’s best screenwriting, Life’s Work explores how chance encounters, self-deception, and luck shape the people we become, and wrestles with what it means to have felt and caused pain, even and especially with those we love, and how you keep living. It is both a master class on Milch’s unique creative process, and a distinctive, revelatory memoir from one of the great American writers, in what may be his final dispatch to us all.

6 Reviews

Loudly Crying Face“Although this is a memoir written with the help of preserved notes, memorabilia and family memories, along with some personal memories, I was disappointed with the overall outcome. What I came away with was a semi- autobiographical account of a a man, receiving all the advantages of being born white and privileged, wasted his life, mountains of money, along with his health in the pursuit of love and acceptance. The years of therapy seemed also to have been wasted. It is a close look into the life of someone suffering from OCD, alcoholism, drug, gambling addictions. (I’m guessing anything sexual was purposely left out of this to spare the children and grandchildren). There are some hints of his insight into his writing process which seems to have been as tumultuous as his personal life, although the finished products were extremely successful, many of which I personally enjoyed . I don’t know how many of the actors were able to work with him, knowing that the writers were never finished with the script. A very dark and sad story.”
Multi-layered charactersOriginal writingUnpredictableDark settingDarkThought-provoking
“This is the most illuminating look at creativity I have ever read, as well as a brutally, deeply brutally honest story of a man recounting his life and the indignities heaped upon him and those he feels he heaped upon others. And, finally, most painfully but enlighteningly, it is the most literate and powerful look into what Alzheimer's Disease is truly like from the inside.”
“Not a perfect person; refreshingly honest and introspective. Some really good one liners; important navel gazing, and I mean that with the utmost respect.”
Slightly Smiling Face
Beautifully writtenEasy to readRealistic setting

About David Milch

David Milch graduated summa cum laude from Yale University, where he won the Tinker Prize. He earned a MFA from the Iowa Writers’ Workshop at the University of Iowa. He worked as a writing teacher and lecturer in English literature at Yale. During his teaching career, he assisted Robert Penn Warren and Cleanth Brooks in the writing of several college textbooks on literature. His poetry and fiction have been published in The Atlantic and Southern Review. In 1982, Milch wrote his first television script for Hill Street Blues. Among other credits, Milch created and wrote the shows NYPD Blue, John from Cincinnati, Luck, and Deadwood.

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