A Best Book of 2022 - USA TODAY
Named one of the Chicago Public Library's "Best Books of 2022"
“Astute, compassionate and lethally funny. Maloney is an exceptionally alert writer on whom nothing is lost, who sees everything with excruciating clarity.” —Sarah Manguso, The New York Times
The searing intimacy of Girl, Interrupted combines with the uncomfortable truths of The Empathy Exams in a collection of essays chronicling one woman’s experiences as both patient and caregiver, giving a unique perspective from both sides of the hospital bed.
What does it cost to live?
When we fall ill, our lives are itemized on a spreadsheet. A thousand dollars for a broken leg, a few hundred for a nasty cut while cooking dinner. Then there are the greater costs for even greater misfortunes. The car accidents, breast cancers, blood diseases, and dark depressions.
When Emily Maloney was nineteen she tried to kill herself. An act that would not only cost a great deal personally, but also financially, sending her down a dark spiral of misdiagnoses, years spent in and out of hospitals and doctor’s offices, and tens of thousands owed in medical debt. To work to pay off this crippling burden, Emily becomes an emergency room technician. Doing the grunt work in a hospital, and taking care of patients at their most vulnerable moments, chronicling these interactions in searingly beautiful, surprising ways.
Shocking and often slyly humorous, Cost of Living is a brilliant examination of just what exactly our troubled healthcare system asks us to pay, as well as a look at what goes on behind the scenes at our hospitals and in the minds of caregivers.
Maloney artfully unpacks the fraught connection between money and health in her brilliant debut collection. She began working as an emergency room technician to pay off medical debt that piled up after a suicide attempt, and with subtle wit and moving vulnerability, she explores how survival is dependent on capital, offering a unique perspective on the American health-care system. In "A Brief Inventory of My Drugs and Their Retail Price," Maloney decries the cost of the medications prescribed to her for her mental health care: "Why was living so much easier for everyone else?" she laments. "Training Days, or On Experience" details the evangelizing EMT instructor who introduced Maloney to the harshness and patriarchy present in her field, while "Something for the Pain" amounts to a compassionate take on the relationship between chronic pain sufferers and big pharma. As she writes, "I am always suspect of people in pain. Or I was. Or I can be." Maloney is masterful at beginning in a place of skepticism and ending with empathy, all while weaving in her own fascinating story. Readers will be eager to see where she goes next.