Monday, October 22, 2012

My current book

I have been working my way through Arthur Frank's The Wounded Storyteller: Body, Illness, and Ethics. The book was recommended to me by two friends who strongly feel Frank is the top writer in medical memoirs. It is one of those books that is challenge and a blessing on so many levels.

Much of the text is written from a highly technical and scholarly point of view. I often find myself feeling like I am back in graduate school, working my way through an endless chapter of a textbook. In simpler terms, it is a heavy book. I often have to go back and re-read passages to better digest the information. Frank's work is his second of this type. His first, At Will of the Body, is a more personal account of his own battle with cancer and a heart attack. I have not read this book yet and perhaps this could be part of my confusion.

Frank has a unique perspective to write these medical memoirs - he is both a survivor and has met with thousands of survivors through interviews and presentations. While it is clear that he understands what it means to be wounded and need a voice, I am still struggling with the technical nature of his work. It is very structured, formatted, and categorized - none of which I expected when I purchased the book. This is not a bad thing or a criticism, it is just not what I anticipated, therefore causing me to move slowly through the text.

At the beginning of this blog post, I noted that the story has been difficult yet fulfilling for me at the same time. Frank's story, while often heavy with citations, is all about the journey of the ill in their quest to share their stories. Franks is magnificently able to capture the raw emotions that come with the loss of self, the need for telling the story, and the struggle to maintain normalcy (whatever that looks like). I appreciate his willingness to openly explore this topic - it is not an easy one. The afflicted need a voice, especially as we look to create a new self in the wake of diagnosis and chaos. That said, I am thankful for the story.

Photo Credit: University of Chicago Press

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