978-0-679-76343-7 / 9780679763437

Camera My Mother Gave Me (01) by Kaysen, Susanna [Paperback (2002)]


Publisher:Vintage, Paperback(2002)



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About the book:

This isn't a book you'll want to pull out on a crowded train, with clinical terms like clitoris and vulvologist, not to mention earthier ones like the F word, on virtually every page to attract the startled attention of the passenger in the next seat. Bluntly describing her yearlong effort to deal with a searing pain in her vagina, Susanna Kaysen doesn't stint on the details of what this malady did to her relationship with her boyfriend (nothing good), nor is she forgiving of the callousness and stupidity displayed by some of her doctors and various alternative health practitioners. Yet her appalling saga is compulsively readable, thanks to Kaysen's propulsive prose and sharp dialogue. She's particularly good at capturing the way people talk about their ailments over dinner and in the middle of other activities. Conversations with friends ramble from her medical problem to tiger maple furniture in an utterly convincing way, and one darkly funny scene shows a pal urging Kaysen to buy a coral necklace following a particularly horrid visit to the doctor because, "You have to get a nice thing after that appointment." Kaysen's laconic humor keeps the book from seeming self-pitying, though her terseness tends to muffle its emotional impact; she expresses her emotions without really conveying them to the reader in any depth. Nonetheless, the pared-down candor that made her portrait of mental illness so gripping in Girl, Interrupted also distinguishes this account of a decidedly physical affliction. --Wendy Smith

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