Poisonous blood, merciless prose

From Irish Times review of The Two Kinds of Decay by Sarah Manguso:

“Those doctors and nurses whose paths crossed Manguso’s during the nine years of her paralysing encounter with CIDP – aka Chronic Idiopathic Demyelinating Polyradiculoneuropathy, aka a rare and extreme form of an already very rare syndrome, aka a situation where her own blood was poisoning her – and who weren’t paying proper attention, are going to be sorry now.

There’s the nurse who “understood slow, simple English” and who persistently shook baby powder perilously close to the line in Manguso’s chest. There’s the Sikh doctor who “sweated onto me, and stunk up the entire room with his frustration”. And there’s the hapless college boyfriend, who liked to carry books around in his pockets: “. . . they stuck out just enough that you could see it was Kierkegaard”. Ouch.

Quotes from book:

“Prednisone’s long-term side-effects include depression and mania, weakness and fatigue, blurred vision, abdominal pain, infections, painful hips and shoulders, porous bones, acne, insomnia, weight gain, stretch marks, facial swelling, and nervousness. There are others. Those are just the ones I have.”

“In San Francisco I met a man who was missing a big chunk of his jaw. The conversation turned to a certain type of hospital visitor. Have you considered herbal remedies? this visitor asks. Both the man and I had entertained this visitor.”


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