The Devil, the Lovers, & Me:
My Life in Tarot
by Kimberlee Auerbach
Dutton Adult, 2007
Reviewed by Liz Davis “Why are you here tonight?” asks Iris, the tarot reader in Kimberlee Auerbach’s honest and funny memoir, The Devil, the Lovers, & Me:
LIZ DAVIS is a writer living back in New York after several years of chilling on the beaches of Hawaii. She is currently working on a memoir and aspires to write her own sitcom.
Kimmi has never had her cards read before, but she’s been in therapy with a Reiki Master, a hypnotist and an intuitive acupuncturist. She’s hoping that Iris will be able to tell her future and that she will walk out of the hot steamy apartment on the Upper West Side knowing that things will get better - that Noah will marry and have kids with her, and that her life will amount to something. She’s in for a surprise: Iris doesn’t believe in reading the future. However, if Kimmi can relax and open up to exploring new ways of seeing herself and her life, then the cards will show her the way. Kimmi’s real problem is The Lovers card and its placement in the obstacle position in the Grand Cross spread, a position that is no coincidence. Kimmi stares at its picture of Adam and Eve standing side by side naked and unabashed in front of the apple tree and can’t help but think of Zach—which is another problem. Is the boy she lost her virginity to fifteen years ago really relevant to her situation now, loving and waiting for a man who doesn’t want to get married? Oh, but everything is related! The Lovers is about integrating opposites – the dark and the light, the good and the evil – and becoming whole. According to Iris, we often choose partners who bring out our yin and yang qualities that make it impossible to ignore how deeply split we are. Zach brought out the beauty and the pain that already existed, he didn’t create it. As Carl Jung says, “one does not become enlightened by imagining figures of light, but by making the darkness consciousness.” As Kimmi leaves the reading, Iris gives her The World, the last card of the twenty-two Major Arcana, and though nothing really has changed, Kimmi feels different. She walks out into the New York City night and realizes that what’s different is that she has stopped playing the victim. Her relationships, her life, they’re all her choices and she can always choose differently at any time. She has control of the reins.
The Devil, the Lovers, & Me is an original book filled with humor and insight. Auerbach redefines tarot, using the cards as Rorschach inkblots rather than tools for divinity. The eleven cards Iris spreads across the table are more than symbolic pathways through Kimberlee’s narrative; they provide an ingenious structure to telling a very normal story about life. Auerbach writes with emotion that brings us deeply into her heart, but always remains light—a perfect dualism in itself.
I want to tell her to mind her own business and give me a break, I just got here, let me enjoy my cookie. But then it occurs to me that I’m paying this woman to help me… to help me with what? Why am I here tonight? It’s not as simple as I want to get married and my boyfriend isn’t ready. Or I hate my job. It’s not as if I’m living on the streets or have some terminal disease. From the outside, I’m just another pretty white girl who seems to get along well in the world. But that’s not how I feel inside. I don’t know how to describe it. It’s similar to that feeling you get when you’ve lost something valuable and sentimental, something you can’t get back or replace, that pit you feel for not being able to remember the moment when it left you, not being able to go back in time. That’s how I feel. I feel lost and afraid, and all I want is for some one to tell me everything’s going to be okay. Iris is staring at me, waiting for me to say something. I feel my face turn red. “Okay,” Iris says, her voice softening. “I’ll ask another question. An easier one, perhaps. Why did you choose to see me?” I clear my throat. “My friend Karen recommended you.”