The Undying: Pain, Vulnerability, Mortality, Medicine, Art, Time, Dreams, Data, Exhaustion, Cancer, and Care

Farrar. Sept. 2019. 320p. notes. bibliog. ISBN 9780374279349. $26; ebk. ISBN 9780374719487. MEMOIR
With this work, poet and essayist Boyer (A Handbook of Disappointed Fate) explores cancer treatment within both historical and modern contexts and details her own very personal journey through breast cancer. Boyer notes that with the ubiquity of breast cancer awareness, the pink ribbons and supportive slogans often become divorced from the very raw suffering of those battling the disease. She takes readers through the most stressful parts of her treatment, interspersing her musings on the nature of pain and how sickness, both past and present, has changed and been perceived by society. At times it’s a difficult read owing to the descriptions of extremely invasive treatments and more abstract discussions of suffering that can be difficult to follow given the complexity of the prose.
VERDICT Overall, a lyrical account that alternates between a philosophical treatise and personal memoir of the physical and emotional cost of breast cancer.

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