Pain Studies

Pain Studies Review

EMERGING STAR IN THE CONTEMPORARY LYRIC ESSAY: Over the past decade, the essay has been reinvented by writers such as Leslie Jamison, Rebecca Solnit, Maggie Nelson, Sarah Manguso, Eula Biss, and Claudia Rankine who combine memoir, pop culture, philosophy, science, history, and personal experience into intertextual, lyrical meditations on our most pressing social and political issues. Readers hungry for more will be delighted that an accomplished poet has now joined this canon with her first work of creative nonfiction.

INDISPENSABLE WORK ON PAIN: Migraine is the third most prevalent illness in the world. In the US, it affects 18% of women and 6% of men. Millions more suffer from some form of chronic pain. Diagnosis--particularly for women's pain--is infamously elusive, while treatment guidelines are both controversial and in a constant state of flux. Even as pain becomes a hot-button political issue and a major theme in the medical humanities, there still isn't a reliable system for describing it. Similar to the transformative approach Eula Biss took toward childhood vaccination in On Immunity and Leslie Jamison takes toward illness and addiction in her work, Olstein--with her poet's gift for language, scholar's curiosity about history and culture, and patient's perspective--is uniquely positioned to lead us toward a new way of discussing pain and empathizing with the afflicted.

FROM MFA TO MED SCHOOL: Olstein is an innovative stylist whose previous work has been widely adopted by professors of poetry and literature. Pain Studies, which delves into themes such as the silences surrounding women's health and doctor/patient relationships, should also become required reading in gender studies programs and medical humanities programs alike.

Title:Pain Studies

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    Pain Studies Reviews

  • Basia

    3.5 stars. What I like most about this book is Olstein's sincerity, her analysis of House MD, and her inclusion of Lucretius's concept of clinamen, or swerve. Pain Studies certainly swerves, but somet...

  • J. A.

    Fans of Anne Carson, Joan Didion, Maggie Nelson, & Sarah Manguso have this to rejoice in. Only a poet could have written a book with such awareness, perception, and craft....

  • Alissa Hattman

    Pain Studies is a lovely, thoughtful collection of lyric essays that explore the intersection between pain, language, and perception. Olstein writes about our inability to express pain. She says, "[e]...

  • Ai Miller

    First off, I received a copy of this book through the Early Reviewers program on LibraryThing. I'm grateful to the publisher for the copy of this; I read an ARC, and so some aspects may have changed i...

  • Katie

    Wow, I breezed through this one and even during a migraine! When you've had to live with chronic pain for some time, reading books about pain can be cathartic. There's the feeling or being not alone. ...

  • Donna Merritt

    As someone with medical problems and pain management challenges, I was hoping this book might provide some insight as to how to confront pain. Or, at the least, to let me know I'm not alone. Neither h...

  • Caroline

    “All pain is simple. And all pain is complex. You’re in it and you want to get out. How can the ocean be not beautiful? The ocean is not beautiful today.”So begins Lisa Olstein’s beautifully m...

  • Elisabeth Jewell

    A thoughtful meditation on the nature of pain, especially chronic pain and migraine, and history's treatment of pain in literature and culture, written by a poet. I do wish I had seen more of her poet...

  • Monica Snyder

    “...The thing is, hope doesn't run the numbers on what falls within reach versus what remains beyond our grasp, so each time we start, we start at zero, and this is the rub. Over and over we may hop...

  • Rebecca H.

    Pain Studies is a book about migraine and so much more. It’s a long essay on what it’s like to live with pain and on the range of meanings migraine holds. She writes about the many methods she has...