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When the Sick Rule the World

4.24  ·  Rating details ·  260 ratings  ·  29 reviews
A moving meld of essay, memoir, and story, When the Sick Rule the World collects Dodie Bellamy's new and recent lyric prose. Taking on topics as eclectic as vomit, Kathy Acker's wardrobe, and Occupy Oakland, Bellamy here examines illness, health, and the body -- both the social body and the individual body -- in essays that glitter with wit even at their darkest moments.

Paperback, 248 pages
Published August 21st 2015 by Semiotext(e)
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Joel Robert
Dec 12, 2015 rated it liked it
woulda given this a 5 if not for two things

- i've decided to start detracting points from books for having personal anecdotes about Kathy Acker. i mean, i like Kathy Acker, but is it like a prereq for getting published by semiotexte that you have to spend at least ten pages of your book doing a hagiography of her? this demeans all of us

-secondly, the last essay is a brutal, 60 page slog of selective white privilege denial re: the shocktrooper role of white bohemians in gentrification. like she b
Jun 27, 2017 rated it really liked it
In the best of these essays, I never know where she's going to go next. And her style is such that she CAN go anywhere from anywhere. There's no slow build-up, no conventional progression, just sentences one after another driven by sound and sense and an unquenchable curious intellect. I love her voice. She's funny and she's not afraid to make Snow White and the seven dwarves into an all out no-holes-barred furry fuckfest.

"Whistle While you Dixie" - 5/5 I was hooked to her voice immediately, I m
oh HECK thank goodness for semiotexte this is one of the best books i read this year!! i knew i liked bellamy since i heard her complain about jonathan franzen <3
this is a handbook in many ways on how to tell what you are doing, as you do it (that whole form and content thing). beautiful anecdotes--provides a guide on how to notice things, how to value moments we want to ignore (leaving a poetry reading to vomit...) how to not take language for granted. as a whole the text boldly asserts tha
Oct 06, 2015 rated it it was amazing
This heady conglomeration of belletristic personal essays is insightful and unpredictable. Bellamy weaves words into sculpture, bleeds ruby red onto the page, and leads readers down hidden paths in the beautiful garden of her mind.
Jul 24, 2017 rated it really liked it
I'm not sure I like this genre of memoir, idk what it's called: Goth crit? Kathy Acker fan club? Theory for freaks?? But I did find a lot in here I liked, like how the Greeks thought women were just two holes connected by one big dirty tube. What really blew my mind was the behind-the-scenes info on the movie "E.T.", most of which I guess is available on the collectors' edition DVD, but wow. I guess E.T. was played by a legless 9 year old boy, voiced by a chain smoker in her 60s with her denture ...more
Michael Dipietro
Apr 14, 2016 rated it liked it
This book was very uneven - I appreciated its wide experimentalism but some of the pieces just struck me as bad writing.. In several the content gets bogged down by Bellamy's structural conceits sabotaging what might otherwise be good ideas. "Rascal Guru" is a good example of this with its relentless repetition. The title essay and the "Shadow of Twitter Towers" piece are astonishingly un-self-aware in Bellamy's overly simple and damning judgements of whole big groups of people. Other essays are ...more
New favorite. Essays on ET, barfy writing, gentrification in SF, illness communities--each one a surge, a mad rush of images and ideas. [8/22/2016]
//edit 10/10/2018 -- recently reread and was again impressed and inspired, thoroughly and on every page. One of my favorite collections of writing.
Nov 28, 2018 rated it it was amazing
Phenomenal. Yet another reason why Dodie Bellamy is one of the most brilliant prose writers on the planet.
Nov 23, 2016 rated it it was amazing
Definitely preferred some stories/essays to others - standouts were the Barf Manifesto, Phone Home, and In the Shadow of Twitter Towers. Truly epic works. This is my first time reading Dodie Bellamy, but now I'll be seeking out the rest of her writing. She's phenomenal.
One of the best things about my insatiable search for different kinds of essay collections and memoirs is occasionally I come across books and authors I had never heard of before. That was certainly the case with Dodie Bellamy. Who dis?

The back of the cover calls her "one of the pioneers of the New Narrative movement and a powerful influence on younger writers" which, okay, New Narrative movement is just one different avenue of the rabbit hole I have to go down now. But also, I want to know who.
L.M. Payne
May 03, 2018 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: feminism, health
This is an amazing, shocking, moving and brilliant book. I've found myself returning to some of the essays multiple times. I'm slightly obsessed with the essay 'Phone Home' in which Bellamy shares the death of her mother through the frame of watching the film E.T.

Bellamy's sparing use of punctuation and paragraphs can sometimes make the text look dense and impenetrable on the page, but when you get into it, her use of em dashes and commas replicate the experience of racing thoughts and create a
Ellen Shay
Mar 30, 2020 rated it it was amazing
Wow- I hadn't read anything by Dodie for awhile, and I now want to hunt down everything I missed and reread the ones I've already read. She gives us all the details of what happened and where her mind went, and I admire her ability to not yield to any internalized pressure to pretty things up. The title piece is about her development of symptoms of environmental sensitivity and her experiences with people already in that category, and her conflicting reactions to it all. It simultaneously elevat ...more
Morgan M. Page
Mar 12, 2019 rated it really liked it
In When the Sick Rule the World, Dodie Bellamy attacks the essay form as she dips into and out of topics around death and the body - whether literally as she writes about the curse of the film E.T. killing her mother, or more expansively as she writes about the slow death by tech gentrification of the body of San Francisco. Three essays stand out for particular attention: her Barf Manifesto about Eileen Myles, the long and juicy essay on the clothes and withcraft of Kathy Acker, and the final ex ...more
Jaredjosephjaredjoseph harveyharvey
On his website my Vietnam vet boyfriend writes, "Please don't ask me what war is like. I can't tell you. If I could truly relate the experience I would be the greatest artist of all time. I know of no one who has done it. If they had, there would be no war." Because of its linguistic complexity, the average reader would find the Declaration of Independence more difficult to read than a novel
May 16, 2017 rated it it was amazing
Gets better every time I read it (3x now). Dodie has an uncanny ability to zoom in on a detail within a scene to bring texture and depth to her larger narrative. Her voice and phrasing are impeccable.
Jan 09, 2018 rated it really liked it
Shelves: non-fiction, essays
Collection of essays, autofiction, whatever ranging from the changing landscape/population of San Francisco, Kathy Acker, and her mother's death (particularly as it relates to the movie ET.
Caroline Alkadi
Aug 15, 2020 rated it liked it
Loved the final essay
Chris Nagel
May 08, 2020 rated it really liked it
The butler did it.

I don't think this book is reviewable.
Jennifer Thorndike
Apr 11, 2019 rated it liked it
3.5/5 hay ensayos muy buenos, pero otros... la puntuación sería más alta si el libro fuese más parejo.
Mar 20, 2020 rated it really liked it
3.5 - this collection was super hit or miss for me, but the ones that hit really hit
Patty Gone
Sep 20, 2016 rated it it was amazing
In Bellamy's book, piss and vomit sticks to everything. Kathy Acker's ring carries a stench, a witchy aura, long after her death. When Bellamy's mother dies, clips from the film E.T. haunt Bellamy as she tries to clean the mess. These essays portray an all-encompassing world, a world full of detritus, of stains that refuse to scrub off. The attempt to clean becomes comic, as in Bellamy's interpretation of the 'Whistle While You Work' section of Snow White, in which the mice and deer clean the di ...more
Sep 10, 2016 rated it it was amazing
This is it, the writing we need. Fresh, urgent, personal, radical. Creative and disrespectful (perhaps even contemptuous?) of boundaries and genre. Eyes wide open, refusing to refuse to see that which we are trained and expected to refuse to see.

The whole collection is great, but if one must list the especially favorite essays, one might start with: Whistle While you Dixie, Rascal Guru, Phone Home, July 4, 2011, and In the Shadow of Twitter Towers. (So many other good ones, though...)

Really spec
Steven Felicelli
May 20, 2016 rated it it was amazing
This is a fantastically rousing book. Associative elegies about her mother, E.T., and Kathy Acker are among the most moving I've read and her ideas (derived from Kristeva's notion of intimate revolt) open a viable avenue for important (politically conscious, sans program) literature.

Her essay In the Shadow of Twitter Tower is simultaneously demoralizing and inspirational. Left me aching to join/start the revolution and pretty sure the revolution was not forthcoming.

This book will make you think
Vincent Silk
Sep 14, 2016 rated it liked it
i like being engaged by nonfiction, i like writing that is not straight up imagined or reality. sometimes the form was distracting, but overall the bits i liked outweighed bits i didn't.
i found there were some moments of objectification or victimisation of sex working women, which annoyed me. sometimes it feels like the semiotexte writers use "the figure of the prostitute" to try and say something about our corrupt unjust world, but for me it just comes across anti-sex work and pretty irritati
At first I really didn't "get" this book, but after talking through "Whistle While You Dixie" and beginning to notice ties between the various essays, I've grown to really appreciate the collection. It's weird and dense and beautiful. "Phone Home" is my favorite. Bellamy writes about ET and how she processed her grief after her mother's death. I also really liked "The Bandage Lady," "July 4, 2011," and "The Beating of Our Hearts." There are certainly others that I still don't "get" though. This ...more
Dec 30, 2015 rated it it was amazing
Loved this book of Dodie's; collected essays, creative nonfiction. I loved the gentrification section (the Twitter towers, hahaha), a great Kathy Acker essay….this is one of the best things I've read recently.
Oct 06, 2015 rated it really liked it
I'd already read a few but always worth a reread, especially Kathy Acker's clothes. The final essay is a real stunner.
Feb 07, 2016 rated it it was amazing
i've got my favourites—mostly the ones at the beginning—but there's brilliant stuff throughout, gems of sentences and controlled chaos of voices and moods all thrown up against each other.
Mar 31, 2016 rated it really liked it
Can't get it off my mind.
rated it really liked it
May 10, 2016
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Dodie Bellamy is an American novelist, nonfiction author, journalist and editor. Her work is frequently associated with that of Dennis Cooper, Kathy Acker, and Eileen Myles. She is one of the originators in the New Narrative literary movement, which attempts to use the tools of experimental fiction and critical theory and apply them to narrative storytelling.

She ist married to Kevin Killian.

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