Leslie Jamison returns with a masterful third work of nonfiction, MAKE IT SCREAM, MAKE IT BURN, a collection of fourteen essays in which her talents as a journalist, critic, and memoirist shine through.
With her attentive roving eye, alighting on details both macro- and microscopic and always offering up trenchant observations, Jamison explores the dynamics of haunting and obsession. If her iconic debut collection explored the perilous allure of empathy, this collection examines what happens not when we look but when we can’t look away—when we find ourselves consumed by desire or fascination. Jamison examines how we are defined by what we can’t ever fully grasp: from the ghosts of possible prior lives to the perpetually unfinished work of documentary art, from the alternate selves of our online avatars to the specters of broken romances.
The structure of MAKE IT SCREAM, MAKE IT BURN serves as a mirror image to that of The Empathy Exams. Whereas the latter started with the personal and gradually turned outward, MAKE IT SCREAM, MAKE IT BURN progresses from the outward-looking to the deeply personal. The first section includes powerhouse pieces of longform reportage: an account of the “loneliest whale in the world” and his devoted followers, an exploration of children who vividly member their past lives, and an examination of those who find community in the virtual world of Second Life.
The second section takes readers to Sri Lanka to survey the residue of its civil war, offers the definitive critical account of an outsider artist’s 25-year documentary photography project on both sides of the US/Mexico border, and ruminates on a museum devoted to the breakups of ordinary strangers.
In the third and final section, Jamison turns to the achingly personal, examining her own life as a site of strangeness and mystery, considering the complexities of longing in essays about weddings, infidelity, elopement in Las Vegas, becoming a stepmother, and her own pregnancy, heartbreakingly juxtaposed with her former years of anorexia. Each essay includes passages that are by turns breathtaking in their brilliance, extraordinary in their originality, beautiful in their lyricism, and, often, laugh-out-loud funny.
Leslie Jamison is the author of the New York Times bestsellers The Recovering and The Empathy Exams, as well as the novel The Gin Closet. A National Magazine Award finalist, she has contributed to publications including the New York Times Magazine, and New York Times Book Review, The Atlantic, Harper’s Magazine, the Virginia Quarterly Review, and the Oxford American. She lives in Brooklyn and directs the graduate nonfiction program at Columbia University.
Leslie Jamison will be accompanied by Peter Bognanni: Peter Bognanni is a graduate of the Iowa Writers' Workshop. His debut novel, The House of Tomorrow, won the Los Angeles Times Book Prize for first fiction and the ALA Alex Award and has been adapted into a feature film. He teaches creative writing at Macalester College in Saint Paul, Minnesota.
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