The Empathy Exams, Leslie Jamison



“So prepare yourself to live in it for a while. Hydrate for the ride. The great shame of your privilege is a hot blush the whole time. The truth of this place is infinite and irreducible, and self-reflexive anguish might feel like the only thing you can offer in return. It might be hard to hear anything above the clattering machinery of your guilt. Try to listen anyway.”

I wrote what I thought was a decent summary of my feelings toward this book, and then accidentally deleted everything. That’s my Sunday in a nutshell.

The lovely Sally gave me this book as a birthday gift, which I think was the best way to receive it. It gave me a bit of comfort knowing I was reading about important things – drug wars, the West Memphis Three, female pain – rather than working on the essay I really need to write. Alas, it was less comforting to know that Leslie Jamison is approximately the most accomplished person in the world (Harvard, the Iowa Writer’s Workshop, and Yale, and she’s not even that much older than me in the grand scheme). And I’m just sitting here writing a blog post about her book instead of being a productive grad student.

I did my laundry this morning. That counts for something, right?

Books read: 11


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