I stumbled across Donald Hall’s “The Third Thing,” an essay on his marriage to fellow poet Jane Kenyon, before my wedding. Hall’s measured tone and rich details came in sharp contrast to all of the bridal materials I was bombarded with, and brought marriage back to life for me.
The arc can only take narrative so far before it crashes, particularly when it comes to personal writing.
To talk about women’s language as wounded is problematic because for so long women’s wounds were either taboo or fetishized. In order to avoid this fetishizing, women find new means of expression by writing outside of existing structures.
What is interesting about trauma narratives, despite their abundance, is how writers shape them, allowing their stories to transcend the act of recounting.
In such ancient stories as The Odyssey, women, who are often archetypes and who typically exist in the margins, are enlivened when their stories are told by contemporary writers, freeing them from their limited roles
Wang, who was diagnosed with schizoaffective disorder in college, after earlier misdiagnoses, debunks stigmas and stereotypes about schizophrenia in her new collection of essays, and provides essential information about a spectrum disorder long misunderstood.
Those who write about their mental illnesses—Jane Kenyon, Susanna Kaysen, Andrew Solomon, Kay Redfield Jamison, and Elizabeth Wurtzel to name a very small few—often struggle to reconcile their character with the disease that riddles them.
Each story is short yet encompassing, and while the plots don't connect, the collection coheres thematically. Nearly all of the protagonists and those characters eddying around them feel this secret habit of sorrow.
The Recovering isn’t Jamison’s attempt to revive her narrative instincts, which she fears sobriety has flatlined. Instead, it is an embrace of the hard-learned revised instincts Jamison has developed because of recovery.