The Wounded Storyteller: Body, Illness, and Ethics
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The Wounded Storyteller: Body, Illness, and Ethics

4.02 of 5 stars 4.02  ·  rating details  ·  92 ratings  ·  11 reviews
In At the Will of the Body, Arthur Frank told the story of his own illnesses, heart attack and cancer. That book ended by describing the existence of a "remission society," whose members all live with some form of illness or disability. The Wounded Storyteller is their collective portrait.

Ill people are more than victims of disease or patients of medicine; they are wounded...more
Paperback, 231 pages
Published May 15th 1997 by University Of Chicago Press (first published 1995)
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Arthur W. Frank’s The Wounded Storyteller: Body, Illness, and Ethics is not a craft book for writers. It is a meticulously constructed, yet elegant and impassioned, examination of the centrality of storytelling as a way of deriving and communicating meaning, by and among individuals. Frank, a sociologist as well as a cancer and heart attack survivor and memoirist, concerns himself with the stories people tell when serious illness disrupts a life story, severing the present from a past that was s...more
I read this book because it's cited by everyone who studies health and narrative. It was a good read though it took me a while to get through. The chapter on the Quest Narrative was probably my favorite since it's most relevant to the work I'm doing. If you're interested in medical memoirs, it's a must-read.
I use this as a text in a class I teach for a BSN nursing program and it works quite well.
Useful categories for thinking through and creating narratives of illness.
Bev Wall
I picked this book up hoping it would assist me in writing my own memoir, but it didn't. Instead it was almost like reading a scientific study into the writing voices of people who are ill. While it might be interesting to study those behaviors, that kind of reading is not really my cup of tea. That being said, the Preface rocked and I thought, this book is going to be great. Not! I loved this one sentence that the author wrote - it really resonated with me: "The Wounded Storyteller is a surviva...more
If you ignore the embarrassing cover and try not to pay too much attention to the gushy North-American style that Frank uses, this is an interesting and potentially empowering read. In quite a Nietzschean manner, he explores how sufferers can appropriate their illness and re-tell it in the form of a "story" (very 90s). Telling your story to someone else forces you to give it some sort of shape; you have to acknowledge your illness and present your thoughts about it to someone else. This allows y...more
Frank hacks into the grimy, unspeakable corners of personal experience in the face of horrendous natural evil. This is an in-depth exploration of different "narratives" that are drawn on by people who experience illness.

I tied this book into an exploration of the phenomenological experience of illness, bioethical conceptualizations of suffering, and read it along with Mike Nichols' 2001 film "Wit" (starring Emma Thompson). The film and the book complement each other wonderfully. I'm not sure wh...more
John Capecci
Regardless of when this was written and the theoretical frames of post-colonialism or postmodernism it explores, this book underscores an enduring truth: people who have experienced illness or disease (or trauma or adversity of any form) frequently are urged to speak their stories either for healing, renewed sense of self or--what I find most interesting--as a form of advocacy and agent of change. Frank's definition of "the communicative body" and characterization of the wounded storyteller as "...more
Andrew Griffith
I enjoyed his earlier book recounting his experience with cancer, At the Will of the Body. The Wounded Storyteller is heavier, with some interesting themes of dichotomies (he uses Control, Body-Relatedness, Other-Relationships, and Desire as his frame), as well as reinforcing the importance of storytelling for the ill person to assert their identity as they go through the healthcare system, whether through restitution (getting better), chaotic (chronic) or the quest (transformation) form of stor...more
Josephine Ensign
This book gets better on re-reading. Parts are dense and academic, but most of it is accessible. Provocative is mostly how I would describe it. My 'working copy' of the book is now dog-eared and green sticky-tagged throughout. His later chapters on the quest narrative and on testimony stand out as particularly well-written.
Glenn Martinez
Proposes that wounded bodies are also wounded in voice. Illness narratives are therapeutic in that they allow the "body-self" to articulate and make sense of the interruptions caused by illness.
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At the Will of the Body: Reflections on Illness The Renewal of Generosity: Illness, Medicine, and How to Live Letting Stories Breathe: A Socio-Narratology The Wounded Storyteller: Body, Illness, and Ethics, Second Edition Talking with Patients about the Personal Impact of Illness: The Doctor's Role

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