Ted Solotaroff's First Loves: A Memoir carries forward the narrative begun in the widely praised Truth Comes in Blows, published in 1998. Where that book’s core was its portrait of Solotaroff's relationship with his father, First Loves is a portrait of marriage that is perhaps unique in its unremitting candor. It describes true love painted in the hues of emotional duress. Solotaroff's scrupulous willingness not to draw conclusions leads the reader on a painful and wondrous journey.
Solotaroff turns back to the earliest pages of his romance with Lynn, remembering his first sighting of her emerging from the water as if from a dream. Yet the image, as he penetrates the intervening layers of sorrow and disappointment, is almost impossibly distant, fragile. First Loves reenacts the blurring of a perfect conception in the mind of a man who would devote his life to precision of thought and word. This opposition, of romantic and intellectual passion, drives the narrative and eventually brings it to crisis.
First Loves could be described as a very private feat of honesty from a public intellectual. Solotaroff's willingness to admit the failures, personal and professional, alongside the triumphs of his career gives a three-dimensional intensity to the emotions on the page. Working with all of the gritty and romantic elements of his storied life, Solotaroff manages to avoid a tone too heroic or honey-dipped; he manages simply to tell the tale.