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Anne Boyer: The Undying
September 30, 2019 @ 7:30 pm - 9:00 pmFree
Anne Boyer discusses her new book The Undying: Pain, Vulnerability, Mortality, Medicine, Art, Time, Dreams, Data, Exhaustion, Cancer, and Care.
Praise for The Undying
“The Undying is a startling, urgent intervention in our discourses about sickness and health, art and science, language and literature, and mortality and death. In dissecting what she terms ‘the ideological regime of cancer,’ Anne Boyer has produced a profound and unforgettable document on the experience of life itself.” —Sally Rooney, author of Normal People
“Anne Boyer’s radically unsentimental account of cancer and the ‘carcinogenosphere’ obliterates cliché. By demonstrating how her utterly specific experience is also irreducibly social, she opens up new spaces for thinking and feeling together. The Undying is an outraged, beautiful, and brilliant work of embodied critique.” —Ben Lerner, author of The Topeka School
“A classic—a book that expands in all directions to fill an empty space in the literature of illness. I have long thought of Boyer as a genius against genius, speaking from the sea of people in a voice that cannot help but be heard above the others, it is so clear and strong. And The Undying is a book that is beautifully against: against cancer, against easy metaphors, above all against ‘the pink ribbon on the for-sale sign on the mansion.’” —Patricia Lockwood, author of Priestdaddy
“This is a powerful, timely, and troubling book. Boyer’s unflinching account of the market-driven brutality of American cancer care sits beside some of the most perceptive and beautiful writing about illness and pain that I have ever read.” —Hari Kunzru, author of White Tears
“Anne Boyer is an essential voice, and this is an essential book: one body’s urgent attempt at finding a language to tell us what it knows.” —Jonathan Lethem, author of The Feral Detective
About The Undying
A week after her forty-first birthday, the acclaimed poet Anne Boyer was diagnosed with highly aggressive triple-negative breast cancer. For a single mother living paycheck to paycheck who had always been the caregiver rather than the one needing care, the catastrophic illness was both a crisis and an initiation into new ideas about mortality and the gendered politics of illness.
A twenty-first-century Illness as Metaphor, as well as a harrowing memoir of survival, The Undying explores the experience of illness as mediated by digital screens, weaving in ancient Roman dream diarists, cancer hoaxers and fetishists, cancer vloggers, corporate lies, John Donne, pro-pain ”dolorists,” the ecological costs of chemotherapy, and the many little murders of capitalism. It excoriates the pharmaceutical industry and the bland hypocrisies of ”pink ribbon culture” while also diving into the long literary line of women writing about their own illnesses and ongoing deaths: Audre Lorde, Kathy Acker, Susan Sontag, and others.
A genre-bending memoir in the tradition of The Argonauts, The Undying will break your heart, make you angry enough to spit, and show you contemporary America as a thing both desperately ill and occasionally, perversely glorious.