Tuesday, October 7, 2014

Texas Book Festival: The Empathy Exams

Liz and I are so excited about the Texas Book Festival lineup that we decided to write a post a day for thirty days leading up to the festival on October 25th and 26th. However, after a considerable amount of counting and recounting using modern technology such as a calendar, we realized the festival is just two weeks away. We've decided in order to keep things simple we would still do a post a day, and we would still get the number thirty in there, so welcome to "Thirty Writers in Fourteen Days." If we can think of a title that sounds less like we've been tag teaming writers during TBF, we will let you know.

Leslie Jamison’s Empathy Exams will top my list of best books of the year (apologies to the one person who may look forward to our year end countdown; I hope you get paroled soon). The essays challenge us to ask ourselves how deeply we really care for each other (an excellent question when you associate with Liz), for strangers, can we feel another person's pain, even when that pain may not be 'real?' Now that I think about it, these essays are the antidote to internet trolls, the lowest form of life.

Jamison has drawn comparisons to Joan Didion, and that's undeniable. And though maybe a book that is basically critical thinking isn't the sexiest thing in the world, this book will change you. It will challenge and change you (no, not Liz, but those of us with a soul). If you love Didion and are wondering which writers are on the cusp of carrying the torch, I would say you must read Leslie Jamison, Rebecca Solnit, and John Jeremiah Sullivan. Good for your soul.

Leslie Jamison will be at the Texas Book Festival on Saturday October 25th at 10:45 in the Capital Extension Room E2.016. I'll be there, come say hello. 

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