Brat by Andrew McCarthy

I recommended to a friend on Twitter that she listen to the audiobook, Brat by Andrew McCarthy – it’s his memoir about the eighties (read by him).

And then this happened:

I squealed.

My kids came running. I told them that Andrew McCarthy had tweeted me. Before they could say anything (‘Who?’), I said Pretty-in-Pink-St-Elmo’s-Fire-Andrew-McCarthy.

It is possibly the highlight of my 11 years on Twitter. Continue reading

Unseen by Jacinta Parsons

Illness is like a natural disaster. In that way, it is simple, because you have little choice but to accept it.

Through my work, I am in contact with many people living with, or caring for others with chronic illness. COVID presents an interesting situation for these people – on one hand, they are under increased pressure because regular support services have stopped or are reduced, and with that comes isolation. On the other, many have told me that now ‘everyone’ is experiencing what they live with every single day – a sense of isolation, having to plan every outing, and being fearful for their health.

Jacinta Parsons’s memoir, Unseen, chronicles her experience with chronic illness. It was published last year, in the middle of the pandemic, and she refers to the ‘groundhog day’ elements of COVID and chronic illness – Continue reading

Hysteria by Katerina Bryant

‘…the oldest and strongest emotion of mankind is fear, and the oldest and strongest kind of fear is fear of the unknown.’ (H.P. Lovecraft)

Katerina Bryant’s memoir, Hysteria, recounts her search for a diagnosis for chronic illness. Bryant was experiencing seizures, episodes that struck without warning and where she felt disconnected from her body.The seizures left her feeling anxious, exhausted and increasingly fearful of participating in ordinary activities. Continue reading

Memorial Drive by Natasha Trethewey

Memorial Drive by Natasha Trethewey made lots of ‘best of 2020′ lists, and I find it hard to pass by a memoir that garners so much praise.

Natasha describes the events leading to her mother’s violent death, and how her experience of grief and trauma has shaped her work (Trethewey is a Pulitzer Prize–winning poet).

Three decades is a long time to get to know the contours of loss, to become intimate with one’s own bereavement. You get used to it. Most days it is a distant thing, always on the horizon, sailing toward me with it’s difficult cargo. Continue reading

Make it Scream, Make it Burn by Leslie Jamison

There were stories in Leslie Jamison’s first essay collection, The Empathy Exams, that I still think about more than five years after reading them. And it’s remarkable how regularly I refer others to particular essays written by Jamison. I suspect it will be the same with her latest collection, Make it Scream, Make it Burn.

So which particular essays will I be pressing on people, and why? Continue reading