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Alice Sebold's Bleak 'Almost Moon'

Author Alice Sebold has produced difficult books before: Her novel The Lovely Bones, soon to be filmed by director Peter Jackson, centers on a 14-year-old looking down from heaven after her own rape and murder.

Sebold's 1999 memoir Lucky began with an account of the author's own rape, which occurred when she was a freshman at Syracuse University. The title comes from a comment made by a policeman, who told her she was lucky not to have been killed and dismembered like another woman attacked in the same vicinity; the unflinchingly candid book detailed Sebold's battles with the aftermath of the trauma, including an addiction to heroin.

Now comes Sebold's latest fiction, The Almost Moon: Its narrative involves a middle-aged woman who murders her ailing elderly mother.

She tells Terry Gross that while she reads fiction to escape the "hideous realities" of ordinary life, she explores those same realities in her own fiction partly to better understand them.

"I don't think ignorance is a way that you gain distance on something," Sebold says. "I think understanding is the way to gain perspective — and therefore can live among those hideous realities. You can live with them."

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