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Girl, Interrupted
Susanna Kaysen
0679746048
June 1994
Paperback
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Book Review
When reality got "too dense" for 18-year-old Susanna Kaysen, she was hospitalized. It was 1967, and reality was too dense for many people. But few who are labeled mad and locked up for refusing to stick to an agreed-upon reality possess Kaysen's lucidity in sorting out a maelstrom of contrary perceptions. Her observations about hospital life are deftly rendered; often darkly funny. Her clarity about the complex province of brain and mind, of neuro-chemical activity and something more, make this book of brief essays an exquisite challenge to conventional thinking about what is normal and what is deviant.

From Publishers Weekly
Kaysen's startling account of her two-year stay at a Boston psychiatric hospital 25 years ago was an eight-week PW bestseller. Copyright 1994 Reed Business...


Girl, Interrupted
Susanna Kaysen
0613377176
Apr 1994
Hardcover
·
 
Book Review
When reality got "too dense" for 18-year-old Susanna Kaysen, she was hospitalized. It was 1967, and reality was too dense for many people. But few who are labeled mad and locked up for refusing to stick to an agreed-upon reality possess Kaysen's lucidity in sorting out a maelstrom of contrary perceptions. Her observations about hospital life are deftly rendered; often darkly funny. Her clarity about the complex province of brain and mind, of neuro-chemical activity and something more, make this book of brief essays an exquisite challenge to conventional thinking about what is normal and what is deviant. --This text refers to the Paperback edition.

From Publishers Weekly
Kaysen's startling account of her two-year stay at a Boston psychiatric hospital 25 years ago was an...


Far Afield
Susanna Kaysen
0679753761
Apr 1994
Paperback
·
 
From Publishers Weekly
A compulsively readable novel of enormous charm by the author of Asa, As I Knew Him , this stakes out the Faroe Islands, an isolated, autonomous Danish territory in the North Atlantic that Harvard anthropology graduate student Jonathan Brand has "discovered" for his course fieldwork. The product of repressed academic parents and of a reductionist scholarly discipline that "made much of such simplicities as who traded beans or feathers with what cousin or whether dinner was cooked in one pot or two," Jonathan sets out to sniff, taste and touch his way to a doctoral thesis from the comfortable remove of an impartial observer. But resisting documentation and analysis, the land of midnight sun and winter "drear," and its deceptively impassive and unevolved denizens, insinuate themselves into the American's...


Camera My Mother Gave Me
Performed by Susanna Kaysen
1590070488
October 2001
Audio
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Book Review
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....


Asa, as I Knew Him
Susanna Kaysen
067975377X
Apr 1994
Paperback
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From Publishers Weekly
This is an exceptionally well-written, polished, curious novel, ostensibly about the love affair between the passionate Jewish narrator, Dinah Sachs, and her WASPish boss, Asa Thayer, a blond, soulless man whose people "think their great-great-grandfathers sprang fully evolved on these shores, products of the Mayflower's timber and New Hampshire rock." The account of the actual affair is sketchy and intriguing, and almost two-thirds of the book is devoted to a description of Asa's teenaged friendship with and attraction to Reuben Sola, a handsome, daredevil, Jewish esthete who dies by accident while climbing a bridge for the thrill of it. For all the author's observations about Asa and the attempt to use Reuben's life and death to explain Asa's distance from others, Asa remains a blurred figure. This is...


Gracefully Insane: Life and Death inside America's Premier Medical Hospital
Alex Beam
1586481614
January 2003
Paperback
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Book Review
Alex Beam's Gracefully Insane is a knowledgeable historical portrait of New England's McLean Hospital, until recently the mental institution equivalent of the Plaza Hotel. Fenceless and unguarded, McLean's grounds were landscaped by Frederick Law Olmsted. Amenities included tennis courts, a golf course, room service, and a riding stable. As one director said, "If you don't know where you are, then you're in the right place." Its patients have included James Taylor, Robert Lowell, and Ray Charles. It also looms large in The Bell Jar and Girl, Interrupted, written by former patients Sylvia Plath and Susanna Kaysen. Beam weaves patients' and employees' stories with an informal review of mental health treatments through the years, including lobotomies, insulin-induced comas, ice-water baths, and a ghastly device called...


The Camera My Mother Gave Me
Susanna Kaysen
0679763430
Oct 2002
Paperback
·
 
Book Review
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....


Unholy Ghost: Writers on Depression
Nell Casey
0060007826
January 2002
Paperback
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Book Review
"A reader on melancholy," the editor calls this book: a collection of 22 modern essays about depression by writers (several well known) who know their subject intimately. Some face depression as a sudden interruption of a previously gratifying life; others have never known life without it. Their words wrestle to express their vision, their gloom, their attempts to cope, their interactions, their isolation, and, often, their reactions to medications. Some attempt to analyze their depression; others just want you to know what it's like. Besides the essays by writers who have experienced depression firsthand, editor Nell Casey (also a writer of one of the chapters) includes a few essays by their spouses and siblings about what it was like to live with a person suffering from depression.

The writers' descriptions of...



The Best American Erotica 2003
Susie Bright (Editor)
074322261X
February 2003
Paperback
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From Publishers Weekly
There's always something for everyone in a Best American Erotica anthology, and this 10th anniversary edition of the long-running series serves up the usual "it takes all kinds" melange. Edited once again by connoisseur Bright (Susie Bright's Sexwise), this collection features a soft-focus excerpt from Susanna Kaysen's memoir The Camera My Mother Gave Me as well as stories from relative unknowns exploring s&m, transgender issues and voyeurism. Greta Christina's "A Live One" is a seductive tale of a peep-show sex worker and her satisfying interaction with a customer behind glass. "Ponyboy" by James Williams showcases the world of submissive men ("ponies") and their "riders." Paula Bomer truly surprises with her combination of emotional honesty and raw sex in "Fucking His Wife, Four Months Pregnant with Their Third...

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