Author(s): Rayya Elias
'She's experienced wealth, cultural alienation, homelessness, brushes with fame, prison, rehab, record deals, a million blown second chances, a dozen broken hearts and one bloody-knuckled ultimate spiritual redemption. She even died once in the process, and may very well have had sex with your wife back in the eighties...' Elizabeth Gilbert When she was seven, Rayya Elias and her upper-class family fled the political conflict in their native Syria, settling in a suburb of Detroit. Bullied in school and caught between the world of her traditional family and her tough American classmates, she rebelled early. Rayya moved to New York City to become a musician and kept herself afloat with an uncommon talent for cutting hair. Eventually though, Elias's affairs with lovers of both sexes went awry, her (more than) occasional drug use turned to addiction and she found herself living on the streets - between visits to jail. Told with a keen sense of humour and a lack of self-pity in even the most harrowing situations, Harley Loco is a memoir about jumping in head-first, no questions asked.
It's a book about living in the moment no matter what that might bring, and about pursuing, not always by choice, a life of extremes - highs and lows, pain and passion - until ultimately arriving at a place of contentment and peace.
From marble-floors in Syria to the punk underbelly of New York's East Village, this is a story of music, addiction, hairdressing, the immigrant experience, prison and of a life lived in the moment
It is my honour to introduce these pages - so gravely, so straggly, so hopeful, bright, and true Elizabeth Gilbert Do any of us really know ourselves? This kind of exploration into the human spirit is what true religion is about. Debbie Harry Rayya Elias' twisted, devastating memoir of a life lived on the margins can take its rightful place alongside The Basketball Diaries, Please Kill Me and Just Kids as a classic, blood-stained love letter to bohemian NYC Craig Marks Elias remains sympathetic as she tramples over her girlfriends, family and herself during the drug-addled chaos of Eighties New York ... This book is to be gulped whole Stylist Gritty, but brilliantly funny Sunday Telegraph Rayya Elias's clear-eyed account of her very messy New York life ... A post-punk misery memoir that never asks for your sympathy Herald Harley Loco succeeds because it conveys the appeal of a chaotic sex-and-drugs lifestyle ... Elias's perspective is often transparently self-deluding, but her voice is always appealing, and will doubtless find a warm and responsive audience Daily Telegraph Elias's writing (in her third language) is plain street, unliterary and compelling; her self-descriptions are impressive in their refusal to dodge or euphemise ... That she wrote it at all is a major achievement for Elias; somewhat fittingly, perhaps, it's a book that struggles with its own nature Aida Edemariam, Guardian
Rayya Elias was born in Aleppo, Syria, in 1960 and moved to the United States in 1967. She is a musician, hairdresser and filmmaker and she also sells real estate to make some extra scratch. She lives in New York City and Little York, New Jersey and has been clean since August 8, 1997. http://rayyaelias.com/ @Rayyaelias