A good old ghost story centered on a Governess who watches over two kids while their mysterious Uncle disappears. The Uncle tells the Governess not toA good old ghost story centered on a Governess who watches over two kids while their mysterious Uncle disappears. The Uncle tells the Governess not to contact him under any circumstance, a sketchy command that the Governess attempts to abide by.
I have written multiple papers on this book for college, and to spare my sanity during finals, I will just say that Henry James presents intriguing concepts on a psychological front. As the brother of William James, he brings in ideas like transference and Freudian relationships, which supplement some of the other themes within the book that do not receive as much development, such as the Governess's role as a woman within her position. A short and almost Gothic novella that packs a decent amount of suspense in its pages. Would recommend for a Halloween read, or if you want a somewhat spooky classic....more
"Sure, some news is bigger news than other news. War is bigger news than a girl having mixed feelings about the way some guy fucked her and didn't cal"Sure, some news is bigger news than other news. War is bigger news than a girl having mixed feelings about the way some guy fucked her and didn't call. But I don't believe in a finite economy of empathy; I happen to think that paying attention yields as much as it taxes. You learn to start seeing."
I did not love every essay in this collection, but the ones I did love, I would give six, seven, or ten stars. I came in as a skeptic: how could this one person, Leslie Jamison, capture the essence of empathy? How could she manage to write about such a mysterious, powerful, and often misconstrued emotion, even with her Harvard degree and her MFA from Iowa? As an aspiring psychologist who values empathy more than anything else, I wanted so much from The Empathy Exams, so much that I curbed my expectations even before starting the book. But I ended the book with only good news: that Jamison delivers, and she does it well.
"Empathy isn't just something that happens to us - a meteor shower of synapses firing across the brain - it's also a choice we make: to pay attention, to extend ourselves. It's made of exertion, that dowdier cousin of impulse. Sometimes we care for another because we know we should, or because it's asked for, but this doesn't make our caring hollow. This confession of effort chafes against the notion that empathy should always rise unbidden, that genuine means the same thing as unwilled, that intentionality is the enemy of love. But I believe in intention and I believe in work. I believe in waking up in the middle of the night and packing our bags and leaving our worst selves for our better ones."
Jamison delves into empathy across several unique situations: her time as a medical actor, when she got punched in the middle of Nicaragua, a sadistic trial known as the Barkley Marathon, the pain of womanhood as a whole. She analyzes these experiences with a powerful blend of fierce insight and vulnerability. Jamison approaches tough topics - Morgellons disease, imprisonment within the justice system - in a way that shows her intellect while honoring her humanity. The theme of empathy soaks into each of these short essays, the emotion sometimes small, sometimes large, but always there.
"Empathy isn't just remembering to say that must be really hard - it's figuring out how to bring difficulty into the light so it can be seen at all. Empathy isn't just listening, it's asking the questions whose answers need to be listened to. Empathy requires inquiry as much as imagination. Empathy requires knowing you know nothing."
Even though I did not agree with all of Jamison's ideas (in particular her essay "In Defense of Saccharine"), I clung to her every word, riveted by her logic and her ruthless self-examination. Her last essay about her grand unified theory of female pain blew me away, as it integrated feminism, history, empathy, literature, and so much more into a painful and poignant message of hope. And when she quoted Caroline Knapp, whose memoir about anorexia tops my favorite list, I knew Jamison had her bases covered.
I would recommend this book to anyone who wants to be a better human, to anyone who wants to read about a woman's attempt to be a better human. I will end this review with the closing lines of the collection, just because I hope the strength of Jamison's conclusion will motivate someone to read the book in its entirety.
"The wounded woman gets called a stereotype and sometimes she is. But sometimes she's just true. I think the possibility of fetishizing pain is no reason to stop representing it. Pain that gets performed is still pain. Pain turned trite is still pain. I think the charges of cliche and performance offer our closed hearts too many alibis, and I want our hearts to be open. I just wrote that. I want our hearts to be open. I mean it."...more
Who says love stories need to be pretty? In "Sarah Cole: A Type of Love Story," Russel Banks gives us a sad and sometimes brutal look into how we letWho says love stories need to be pretty? In "Sarah Cole: A Type of Love Story," Russel Banks gives us a sad and sometimes brutal look into how we let physical appearance, class, and other differences divide us from our lovers. He breaks the rules and switches from first person to third person and even second person a couple of times; however, he maintains a solid voice that carries throughout the piece. His tone grounds the story and gives it emotional impact - he does not beat you over the head with the idea of "you shouldn't judge people by how they look," rather, he lets us explore a character who learns that for himself. A short piece with tons to discuss. Recommended....more
In his short story "Wickedness," Ron Hansen makes weather anything but a casual conversation topic. Weather kills people, weather causes people to kilIn his short story "Wickedness," Ron Hansen makes weather anything but a casual conversation topic. Weather kills people, weather causes people to kill other people, and weather drives these Nebraskans' lives together and apart as it tears through everyone in its way. A good modular story that maintains a cool, calculating tone that unifies its individual sections. Recommended for those who enjoy solid physical descriptions that center on weather, as well as for those who would like to see just how devastating of an effect one blizzard can have....more
An innovative joyride of a short story, centered on a rapist's attempt to kidnap a young girl and the boy who comes between them. Saunders makes everyAn innovative joyride of a short story, centered on a rapist's attempt to kidnap a young girl and the boy who comes between them. Saunders makes every word count as he bounces around in these three characters' heads; he shows off his experimental writing style and the piece as a whole serves as a solid lesson in voice and zoomed-in narrative perspective. You can read the full story at the New Yorker....more