Friday, February 24, 2023

Nine books that rethink our narratives about health & healing

Maggie Laurel Boyd is a PhD Candidate, Teaching Fellow and Writing Fellow at Boston University. She is currently writing a dissertation on contemporary US and Irish narratives of healing.

At Electric Lit she tagged nine books that help us "rethink our existing narratives about healing and recognize that if our arc of recovery deviates from the template, then at least we’re in good company." One title on the list:
Maps of Our Spectacular Bodies by Maddie Mortimer

Maps of Our Spectacular Bodies might be one of my favorite books. Maddie Mortimer narrates her novel from the points-of-view of a cancer patient named Lia, her husband, her daughter, her mother, and her actual cancer. In entangling these perspectives, Mortimer depicts with both candor and compassion what happens to our bodies, our minds, and our communities when we are sick. Making cancer a narrator itself, with surprising insight into and even sympathy toward Lia, unsettles our narrative expectations of healing—an unsettling that is also mirrored in the novel’s inventive form. Throughout, words take the shape of spirals, doves, and fireworks; they are scattered, bolded, and boxed on the page. In giving illness a voice and a shape, Mortimer creatively addresses a central question in all illness narratives: what language effectively represents the experience of being ill? Maps of Our Spectacular Bodies shows us how unexpected, unconventional representations best capture not just a dense and difficult experience, but also the myriad ripples it makes on the lives it touches.
Read about the other entries on the list.

--Marshal Zeringue