Rebecca's Reviews > The Empathy Exams
The Empathy Exams
I didn’t enjoy this essay collection nearly as much as I expected to. I liked the medical-related pieces – attending a Morgellons disease conference, working as a medical actor – but not the Latin American travel essays or the character studies. The overarching theme of empathy was not as strong as I thought it would be; really, the book is more about how experiences mark the body. In Jamison’s case, these include an abortion, heart surgery, and a broken nose from a mugger’s attack in Nicaragua. I find it hard to pinpoint why I never warmed to Jamison’s writing, but many of these essays struck me as digressive, too cleverly structured, and too obvious in their literary debts (e.g. to Susan Sontag or Lucy Grealy). Two similar books I would recommend over this one are The World Is on Fire by Joni Tevis and On Immunity by Eula Biss.
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