Sunday, 12 May 2013

Stories We Tell Ourselves

Author: Michelle Herman

Published: March 2013

What They Say: The two thought-provoking, extended essays that make up Stories We Tell Ourselves draw from the author’s richly diverse experiences and history, taking the reader on a deeply pleasurable walk to several unexpectedly profound destinations. A steady accumulation of fascinating science, psychoanalytic theory, and cultural history—ranging as far and wide as neuro-ophthalmology, ancient dream interpretation, and the essential differences between Jung and Freud—is smoothly intermixed with vivid anecdotes, entertaining digressions, and a disarming willingness to risk everything in the course of a revealing personal narrative.

“Dream Life” plumbs the depth of dreams—conceptually, biologically, and as the nursery of our most meaningful metaphors—as it considers dreams and dreaming every whichway: from the haruspicy of the Roman Empire to contemporary sleep and dream science, from the way birds dream to the way babies do, from our longing to tell them to the reasons we wish other people wouldn’t.

“Seeing Things” recounts a journey of mother and daughter—a Holmes-and-Watson pair intrepidly working their way through the mysteries of a disorder known as Alice in Wonderland Syndrome—even as it restlessly detours into the world beyond the looking glass of the unconscious itself. In essays that constantly offer layers of surprises and ever-deeper insights, the author turns a powerful lens on the relationships that make up a family, on expertise and unsatisfying diagnoses, on science and art and the pleasures of contemplation and inquiry—and on our fears, regrets, hopes, and (of course) dreams.  

What Elaine Says: A short review for a short little book. This is a quietly beautiful and quirky little book. Divided into two distinct these are pretty much extended essays that read in a somewhat 'stream of consciousness' manner (Dreamlife in particular). 

"Dream Life" takes an indepth look at the authors dreams and subsequent interpretation.  It's actually quite funny at moments but I did feel the style starting to wear a little thin by the end.

"Seeing Things" is fabulously off beat and definitely my favourite part of the book. A strange and quirky examination of relationships within a family with an examination of art and science chucked in. 

Enjoyable, intriguing, a little touching and quite amusing I liked this book quite a lot.  Herman has produced something completely different than the norm and managed to make it charming in the process. 

Elaine's Rating: 6/10

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