In honor of the Feb 23 release of the collaborative story collection YOUR SICK (Jellyfish Highway, 2016). While staying away from various metaphors of illness (humans as blight on earth, offspring as infection, love as infection, queerness as illness, the history of colonization, etc), this course of study will yield you head colds, chronic conditions, and invisible ailments, will take you to your death bed and back again.
Your Sick – Elizabeth J. Colen, Carol Guess & Kelly Magee (Jellyfish Highway, 2016)
- Creates a world in which new diseases manifest: fever dreams turn kids into parrots, lungs sprout seeds, and a lover’s infection infuses into her name. Real contagions transform into magical kinds of sickness, from airborne amnesia to genetic tornados to plague-stricken mail.
The Yesterday Project – Ben Doller & Sandra Doller (Sidebrow Books, 2016)
- “Parallel collaboration” recording 32 days in the life of a diagnosis.
Binary Star – Sarah Gerard (Two Dollar Radio, 2015)
- Part road trip, part disintegrative love story, deals with disordered eating and alcoholism.
In Orbit – Kim-An Lieberman (Blue Begonia Press, 2014)
- As striking as Bowie’s “Lazarus,” this posthumous book chronicles a poet’s final months; Lieberman died a year ago at age 39.
Contagious: Cultures, Carriers, and the Outbreak Narrative – Priscilla Wald (Duke University Press, 2008)
- Details how epidemics define the cultural moment.
This is Not a Novel – David Markson (Counterpoint, 2001)
- Strange rapid-fire meditation on illness, art, and the diverse expiry of famous artists.
HIV, Mon Amour – Tory Dent (Sheep Meadow, 2000)
- Whitmanesque lines and examination of urban hospital room as landscape for examining the politics and commerce of an emerging epidemic.
To the Friend Who Did Not Save My Life – Herve Guibert (High Risk, 1993)
- Regrettably out of print, deals with the author’s hope in the early days of the AIDS crisis to get into clinical trials in France; Foucault (renamed) is also a character.
Illness as Metaphor – Susan Sontag (1978)
- Sontag’s attempt at changing the language we use around illness.
Sybil – Flora Rheta Schreiber (1973)
- This book’s a crowd, details the 16 people living in Sybil Dorsett.
The Plague – Camus (1948)
- Heartwarming story of pestilence in Oran.
Magic Mountain – Thomas Mann (1924)
- Hans has a “moist spot” on one lung / spends his days in a TB ward falling in love and reading biology books.
Little Women – Louisa May Alcott (1868)
- All I remember of this book is Beth’s long, unnamed illness; my first heartbreak.
And a filmic look at the ultimate contagion:
- The Walking Dead (Seasons 1-7)
- Night of the Living Dead (1968) dir. George Romero
- Dawn of the Dead (1978) dir. George Romero
- 28 Days Later (2003) dir. Danny Boyle
- Shaun of the Dead (2004) dir. Edgar Wright
- Juan of the Dead (2011) dir.
- Maggie (2015) dir. Henry Hobson
- Invasion of the Body Snatchers (1978) dir. Philip Kaufman