Yoga was an accident that paid the bills. “I had moved back to the city after college and was living with a friend on Ludlow Street,” Ms. Auder said. “I was depressed on the couch, trying to sell my book.” That was her senior thesis, her first pass at a story about life with Viva.
“I was like, ‘What the hell? I’m not prepared for this,’” she continued. “I didn’t know how to have a job. I’d never seen that. I’d only seen these weird artists. I could have been a waitress, but I had this rarefied idea of being a famous actress or selling this book without doing the actual work.”
Yoga, she said, got her off the couch. She started teaching and moved in with Mr. Nehéz, who was finishing up at Bard. He built her a studio in nearby Tivoli, which for a time was the only yoga game in town, and her sideways career commenced. “In my mind I was like, ‘I’ll just do this for a couple of years,’” she said.
The book mostly languished. She’d often drag out the manuscript and read passages to her husband, until he made her stop. Her mother read it early on, too, and at some point began calling it the “Mommie Dearest” book. Ms. Auder and her husband also tackled Viva cinematically in a 2004 short, “Viva Viva,” which followed her as she prepared for an art show. But it wasn’t until 2019, when Ms. Auder’s yoga satires began to get some notice, that she thought she might try to sell the book one last time.
Viva hasn’t read the final version. Nonetheless, she is proud of her elder daughter, she said in an interview, for finally getting her story published. Mr. Auder has read the book, and he said he had to pause in his reading to catch his breath as he took in his daughter’s experience, marveling, with a bit of guilt, at how she coped with her complicated upbringing and at “her finely chiseled prose expertly laid on paper.”
“Don’t Call Me Home” is fully cooked, wicked in its humor and often heartbreaking. “I always fear that trying to not be like Viva has made me remote,” Ms. Auder writes. One day in family therapy, as she writes, her daughter, Lui, accused her of just that. The session spurs a memory of the night before Ms. Auder’s college graduation, when Viva paced the streets of Tivoli, howling like a character in a Greek tragedy as Ms. Auder hid in Mr. Nehéz’s closet.