Longlisted for the PEN/Diamonstein-Spielvogel Award for the Art of the Essay
From the "astounding" (Entertainment Weekly), "spectacularly evocative" (The Atlantic), and "brilliant" (Los Angeles Times) author of the New York Times bestsellers The Recovering and The Empathy Exams comes a return to the essay form in this expansive new book.
ONE OF THE FALL'S MOST ANTICIPATED BOOKS: Time, Entertainment Weekly, O, Oprah Magazine, Boston Globe, Newsweek, Esquire, Seattle Times, Baltimore Sun, BuzzFeed, BookPage, The Millions, Marie Claire, Good Housekeeping, Minneapolis Star Tribune, Lit Hub, Women's Day, AV Club, Nylon, Bustle, Goop, Goodreads, Book Riot, Yahoo! Lifestyle, Pacific Standard, The Week, and Romper.
With the virtuosic synthesis of memoir, criticism, and journalism for which Leslie Jamison has been so widely acclaimed, the fourteen essays in Make It Scream, Make It Burn explore the oceanic depths of longing and the reverberations of obsession.
Among Jamison's subjects are 52 Blue, deemed "the loneliest whale in the world"; the eerie past-life memories of children; the devoted citizens of an online world called Second Life; the haunted landscape of the Sri Lankan Civil War; and an entire museum dedicated to the relics of broken relationships. Jamison follows these examinations to more personal reckonings -- with elusive men and ruptured romances, with marriage and maternity -- in essays about eloping in Las Vegas, becoming a stepmother, and giving birth.
Often compared to Joan Didion and Susan Sontag, and widely considered one of the defining voices of her generation, Jamison interrogates her own life with the same nuance and rigor she brings to her subjects. The result is a provocative reminder of the joy and sustenance that can be found in the unlikeliest of circumstances.
These illuminating and ruminative essays from Jamison (The Recovering) explore obsession and alienation, combining reportage, memoir, and philosophy. The first (and most successful) section is largely focused outward, beginning with a profile of "52 Blue," a blue whale with an extraordinarily high-pitched song who never found a mate, but did garner many human admirers who identified with his (perceived) loneliness. Jamison moves on to considering reincarnation, through uncanny cases of children seemingly remembering past lives, taking an approach "skeptical of knee-jerk skepticism itself." In Part II, Jamison progresses into aesthetics and literary theory, discussing an exhibit of Civil War photography and James Agee's sociological tome about Alabama tenant farmers, Let Us Now Praise Famous Men, which notably "documents the process of documentation itself." Part III is decidedly more personal, as Jamison details struggles with intimacy and a series of doomed relationships, hitting a high note with her consideration of the evil stepmother archetype in the light of becoming a stepmother herself. Jamison is positively brilliant when penetrating a subject and unraveling its layers of meaning, such as how 52 Blue represents "not just one single whale as metaphor for loneliness, but metaphor itself as salve for loneliness." Fans of the author's unique brand of perceptiveness will be delighted.