Rebecca's Reviews > The Empathy Exams

The Empathy Exams by Leslie Jamison
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bookshelves: essays, travel-books, uncategorizable, medical

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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Reading Progress

January 7, 2014 – Shelved as: to-read
January 7, 2014 – Shelved
April 8, 2015 – Started Reading
April 15, 2015 – Shelved as: essays
April 15, 2015 – Shelved as: travel-books
April 15, 2015 – Shelved as: uncategorizable
April 18, 2015 – Finished Reading
May 1, 2018 – Shelved as: medical

Comments Showing 1-2 of 2 (2 new)

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Sarah Agree with everything!


Rosie Beechen yes!! 💯


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