From personal loss to phantom diseases, The Empathy Exams is a bold and brilliant collection, winner of the Graywolf Press Nonfiction Prize
A Publishers Weekly Top Ten Essay Collection of Spring 2014
Beginning with her experience as a medical actor who was paid to act out symptoms for medical students to diagnose, Leslie Jamison's visceral and revealing essays ask essential questions about our basic understanding of others: How should we care about each other? How can we feel another's pain, especially when pain can be assumed, distorted, or performed? Is empathy a tool by which to test or even grade each other? By confronting pain - real and imagined, her own and others' - Jamison uncovers a personal and cultural urgency to feel. She draws from her own experiences of illness and bodily injury to engage in an exploration that extends far beyond her life, spanning wide-ranging territory - from poverty tourism to phantom diseases, street violence to reality television, illness to incarceration - in its search for a kind of sight shaped by humility and grace.
©2014 Leslie Jamison (P)2015 Audible Inc.
Smart, philosophical, creepy
I am only half way through the book, but the 2nd essay is skin crawling, literally.
Anyone. She has a strange, annoying voice that sounds digitally generated. She also isn't consistent in her pronunciations. Seemed unrehearsed to me, and I found myself distracted from the narrative, wanting to turn her off.
The first essay will remain with you.
A very real and detailed look at pain, suffering and empathy from the authors personal experience/research...some of it is very moving and thought-provoking to me, however I did not enjoy the style in which some of it was portrayed. I did listen to the end and enjoyed the narration.
She has a bizarre accent, which could more accurately be called an affectation. She sounds kind of like Siri on a bad day. It was very distracting to the point that I don't even know whether or how much I like the actual book.
I wish I had read this one instead of listening to it.
This is beautiful writing, but I'm hearing through a metallic sounding robot. I have two hours to go but don't think I can finish because this narrators voice is so deeply unpleasant.
In a world of cynicism and a deluge of stories and strangers, Leslie Jamison brilliantly weaves together literature, vulnerable personal narrative, pop culture, and other diverse sources, uniting the essays with a single invitation: to let pain and experiences of others touch us, no matter how we have been taught to dismiss them.
Jamison's analysis and intuition for human experience is rich, at times almost too thick too take in even over multiple readings, but never becomes lofty, remaining grounded in vulnerable exposes of her own life.
Perhaps the undergirding gift in the book is found in Jamison's ability to anticipate skepticism, articulate bias, and empathize with cynics and those we default judgement to, all the while avoiding resorting to jaded cynicism herself, directing us instead to a deeper invitation to be human and to be inhabited by the experiences of other humans.
This book is by no means a typical read for me, and it certainly drove the point home as I progressed through it. There were a number of very interesting essays that all seemed to have their own resolve while touching on the central idea of the novel.
I definitely learned a bit of trivia as well as witnessed a different perspective of empathy as a whole. I don't read between the lines too often, but I can't get over how force-fed the last essay was; it seemed to lend itself to a completely different theme than those other stories.
Nevertheless, it was a great book, I just wish the ending had been alluded to earlier. Especially given the fact that it is what best remains in my memory from the read.
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