Sunday, 1 December 2019

‘Make It Scream, Make It Burn: Essays by Leslie Jamison'

A side dish of Leslie Jamison
Is this the best put-down ever? (The kale bit). Surely one of the cleverest and most biting (as it were).
Note to self: no need to Wishlist this one, even though Jamison is a smouldering houri, a doe-eyed beauty.
Because she is a woman who writes essays, Jamison has been compared with Joan Didion, Janet Malcolm and Susan Sontag, but she is the antithesis of her predecessors. A recovered alcoholic, Jamison speaks the lingo of sharing, gratitude and moral righteousness (in her acknowledgements she thanks those friends 'who simply helped me survive my own life'). She trades in platitudes, believes that scepticism contains an 'ethical failure', and 'has doubts about doubt'. As an 'expression of kinship and curiosity' with the world, she has the words 'Nothing human is alien to me' tattooed on her arm. She thus carries her heart on her sleeve: there is no experience she can't relate to; her belief system is 'tolerant enough to hold everything as equally valid'. If Didion, Malcolm and Sontag are caviar from a live fish, Jamison is a side serving of kale.