Lee Siegel has been a senior editor and TV critic at the New Republic, book critic for the Nation, art critic for Slate, staff writer at Harper's, Talk magazine, and the Los Angeles Times Book Review, weekly columnist for the New York Observer, weekly columnist for the Daily Beast, and associate editor of ARTnews. His writing has been published by every major magazine and newspaper in the country, including the New York Times Book Review, the New York Times and the New York Times Magazine; the Wall Street Journal's Weekend Section; the New Yorker; the Atlantic Monthly; the New York Review of Books; and New York magazine. In 2002, Siegel received the National Magazine Award for Reviews and Criticism. In 2011, he served as a judge for PEN's John Galbraith Prize.
To date, Siegel has published four books: FALLING UPWARDS: ESSAYS IN DEFENSE OF THE IMAGINATION (Basic Books, 2006); NOT REMOTELY CONTROLLED: NOTES ON TELEVISION (Basic Books, 2007); AGAINST THE MACHINE: BEING HUMAN IN THE AGE OF THE ELECTRONIC MOB (Spiegel & Grau, 2008); and ARE YOU SERIOUS? HOW TO BE TRUE AND GET REAL IN THE AGE OF SILLY (HarperCollins, 2011). Siegel has also published an e-book titled "Harvard Is Burning."
Siegel is currently finishing a short, critical biography of Groucho Marx for Yale University Press's "Jewish Lives" series and editing and writing the introduction for a collection of D. H. Lawrence's essays to be published by New York Review of Books.
A Publishers Weekly Book of the Week
THE DRAW is a coming-of-age story about a boy striving to make his way up through society and out of a family that has been emotionally and psychologically devastated by economic misfortune.
Lee Siegel’s father, Monroe, a kind and decent man, accumulates a crushing debt to the company he works for, a real estate firm that has been paying him an advance, or “draw,” against future commissions. “The more he depended on the Draw to live,” Lee writes of his father, “the more it shrank his life.” As the recession hits in the mid- 1970s, Monroe finds himself without commissions, and thus unable to pay back his employer. Fired from his job, he is pursued by the law, loses his wife to divorce, and eventually declares bankruptcy. Lee’s mother, Lola, confronting a bleak and tenuous future, experiences a breakdown that transforms her into a seductive yet vindictive adversary of Lee, her older son.
To escape his mother’s bewildering manipulations and the shame and rage that his father’s fate incites in him, Lee creates an alter ego elevated by literature, music, and art. As he stumbles through a series of menial jobs while trying to succeed as a writer, Lee dreams of the protected space of a great university where he can fulfill his destiny in his work. But in order to attend college, he has to take out loans, unwittingly repeating his father’s trajectory.
Propelled by riveting stories and unforgettable portraits, The Draw weaves a defiant stand against a society in which, as the author observes, the struggle with money can turn someone’s innocent weakness into a weapon of self-destruction. As much a flesh-and-blood parable of economics as an intimate memoir brimming with harsh introspection, intellectual reverie, and surprising evocations of sexuality—the way you handle money and the way you have sex are often mutually illuminating, the author writes—Lee Siegel’s youthful odyssey is for anyone who has tried to break through the barriers of family, class, and money to the freedom to choose his or her own path in life.