JoyfulK's Reviews > Fatigue Artist

Fatigue Artist by Lynne Sharon Schwartz
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Jul 20, 10

bookshelves: memoir-biography-recommended, womens-lives-good-reads
Read in January, 2009

"Don't let anyone accuse of of malingering, [the doctor:] said.
"Little did he know how much I'd like to malinger, but I can't seem to get the hang of it. I keep shuffling to my desk to work on my book. ... tinker with a phrase here and there, until my brain short-circuits. Lights out. I sit holding the thin manuscript on my lap ... hoping it will grow from love alone." (p. 112)

As a novel, it's got some things to be desired. No particular plot, for example, although there's a romantic subplot wending its way through the book. (It's not strong enough to be the plot.) But as a meditation on the effects of Chronic Fatigue Syndrome (aka CFS, Myalgic Encephalomyelitis (ME), and Chronic Fatigue Immune Dysfunction Syndrome (CFIDS)), it's got much to recommend it. The author has the disease pegged, and has created a character who, not particularly *needing* to work, deals with the effect on the disease on that fact that she *wants* to, and can't. The title comes from the narrator's reflections on performance art. Ultimately, says the narrator, "my ailment no longer interests me. It's tolerable only as I keep finding metaphors and stories to wrap it in." (p. 291) Yes. When one is ill for years, it becomes just a fact of life, not the center of it. Except when it leaps up and grabs center stage again, and then it's boring unless one can find some new way to see it.

I don't know if I exactly recommend this book. But I'm glad I read it.
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