Pain Studies

Bellevue Literary. Mar. 2020. 192p. ISBN 9781942658689. pap. $16.99. HEALTH
Poet and writer Olstein (English, Univ. of Texas at Austin; Lost Alphabet) has experienced migraines for much of her life, and this work seeks to express the complex experience of chronic pain by connecting philosophy, popular culture, and personal narratives. Olstein’s writing grabs readers’ attention, even those without a history of chronic illness, and begins by offering a tour through the history of pain. Drawing on the experiences of figures such as Joan of Arc and TV’s House M.D., the author captures the unexplored and misunderstood world of chronic pain. Olstein criticizes Oliver Sacks’s Migraine for its subjective analysis and presumptions of living with migraines. This work differs in that its analysis spans multiple perspectives and includes Olstein’s sincere recollections, making this extended lyrical essay shine.
VERDICT Unique in its exploration of the relentlessness of chronic pain, this work succeeds because of creative and candid elaborations on something that is common but difficult to describe. Those living with chronic pain and their caregivers will find Olstein’s personal voyage through pain to be enlightening

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