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You Feel So Mortal: Essays on the Body

3.54  ·  Rating details ·  121 ratings  ·  17 reviews
Feet, bras, autopsies, hair—Peggy Shinner takes an honest, unflinching look at all of them in You Feel So Mortal, a collection of searing and witty essays about the body: her own body, female and Jewish; those of her parents, the bodies she came from; and the collective body, with all its historical, social, and political implications. What, she asks, does this whole mess ...more
Hardcover, 224 pages
Published March 19th 2014 by University of Chicago Press (first published January 1st 2014)
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Lyn Elliott
Apr 20, 2020 rated it really liked it
Peggy Shinner is Jewish, lesbian, an orphan and lives in Chicago. The texture of Shinner’s essays is woven around these central themes, like ribbons around maypoles. While none of the essays claims to be about specifically about these things, they pervade the work, often leavening serious discussion with humour.

The subtitle of You Feel so Mortal is Essays on the Body, but it’s not so much the elements of bodies that she writes about (feet, noses, aging) as the pictures she draws of people and r
Kati Heng
Nov 06, 2014 rated it it was amazing
I’m so fucking glad University of Chicago Press finally published a collection of Peggy Shinner’s essays on the body. Except, though, I’m not glad it got published, like, in Chicago, for whatever reason (I don’t pretend I know the politics of this stuff), only because Shinner’s already a local legend and I need people outside this city to realize THIS LADY’S A LEGEND.

I love this book. You’ll love this book if you’ve ever looked at even one part of your body and thought why the fuck are you like
Rhonda Cutler
Apr 30, 2014 rated it it was amazing
I found this essay collection to be one of the most enjoyable books I have read in a long time. The thread that runs through all the essays is the body, and there is hardly a body part that the author doesn’t explore. Feet, noses, hair, brains, spines – they’re all fair game. She considers many of them through the lens of her Jewishness, and her ambivalent feelings toward this, and the results are invariably poignant and comical. Also fascinating, as in making her points, the author draws on an ...more
Abby Howell
Mar 02, 2014 rated it it was amazing
Just last night I finished Peggy Shinner's captivating new book of essays. It started with feet and ended with autopsies. And in between, well, bras, posture, and lots of other things. I loved her style--yes, the first essay is about her feet, but also about a world of feet. What feet are, mean, have been, will be. I learned more and more about Peggy as I got further and further into the book, and this was charming and wonderful. But I also learned more and more about the world. And with her exp ...more
Mar 06, 2018 rated it liked it
Really enjoyed the Jewishness of this collection of essays on the body.

RIYL: The Empathy Exams by Leslie Jamison
Dec 31, 2014 rated it really liked it
I really loved this collection of essays. Shimmer is an incredible prose stylist and I loved the subjects she engaged in the essays. I had not heard of her work before so this was a real find for me.
Jun 30, 2018 rated it liked it
Shelves: owned
autopsal deliberance recounted
Tim Chapman
Jul 07, 2014 rated it really liked it
Fellow author, teacher, and martial artist Peggy Shinner's collection of essays has a picture of two bras on its cover. You can forgive me for thinking, at first glance, that it was a "chick" book. It is not. It is a book for anyone who has ever considered the fragile threads that tie us to our friends, our parents, our lovers. If you want to learn the connection between a famous killer, a nose job, and a Jewish cemetery, read this book.
Michelle Blankenship
Jan 22, 2014 rated it it was amazing
The book is called an essay collection, but I would also classify it as a memoir because the author lays bare so much of herself as she examines the body through her writing. It is full of interesting facts, observations, and hard-hitting insights. From slouching to finding out your mother wrote to a murderer in prison and much more, Shinner turns these topics into a fascinating read that every mere mortal can relate to!
Dec 17, 2013 rated it it was amazing
This is such a witty, meticulously researched, and moving collection of essays in which Shinner writes with self-effacing humor and true humanity about her body, her secular Jewish upbringing, about what it means to be a reflective, intelligent woman in early 21st century Western society, to live in a city like Chicago, to have the family, the friends, and the life partner that she does.
Leah Canner
Jan 30, 2015 rated it really liked it
Shelves: non-fiction
Peggy Shinner's essays in You Feel So Mortal that retain focus on the body--specifically, the aging female body--are endearing, worldly, and well-written. The later essays diverge slightly, but are still enjoyable to read.
Laura Perez
Jul 16, 2015 rated it liked it
DNF 68% it was sorta interesting, just Not what I was thinking it was about. It seemed like every chapter was just about how Jewish and how gay she is. While there is nothing at all wrong with those things, I just don't care to read a whole chapter on how "Jewish" your nose is.
Christine Rice
Feb 24, 2015 rated it it was amazing
Five stars and then some.
Mills College Library
814.6 S5568y 2014
Apr 04, 2014 rated it it was ok
This is more essays on Jewishness than essays on the body. Which isn't a problem, just not what I was expecting.
Jun 07, 2015 rated it it was ok
Shelves: 100-in-2015
This was...boring, quite honestly. Maybe because I'm not Jewish, and that seemed even more of a major thread of the essays than the body, I just couldn't get into them. Maybe I just missed the point.
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