An odd mix of revealing personal memoir and academic writing that its author calls experimental ethnography. Ellis...

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"FINAL NEGOTIATIONS: A Story of Love, Loss, and Chronic Illness"

An odd mix of revealing personal memoir and academic writing that its author calls experimental ethnography. Ellis (Sociology/Univ. of South Florida) tells the story of her complex and constantly shifting relationship with Gene Weinstein from their first meeting in 1975, when she was a 24-year-old graduate student and he a 44-year-old professor of sociology, until his death from emphysema in 1984. As Ellis's mentor at the State University of New York, Stony Brook, Weinstein was something of a control freak, and if anyone dominated their early relationship it was he. Over the nine years they were together, the relationship took various twists and turns as his emphysema grew steadily worse and his dependence on Ellis increased. She eventually became his caretaker and, when he was on his deathbed, his wife. Ellis does not spare either herself or Weinstein. These are two articulate, intelligent adults who are sometimes angry, selfish, and petty; sometimes thoughtful, patient, and loving; and sometimes an untidy mixture of all of the above. They comfort each other, they scream at each other, they embarrass each other, they protect themselves. And Ellis reports it all as both participant and observer. Her detailed account of the changing dynamics of their relationship is presented in Parts 2, 3, and 4; thus readers primarily interested in the love story can read it without interruption if they choose. Ellis hopes that social scientists will see her work as a legitimate humanizing and personalizing of sociology, and in Parts 1, 5, and 6, she gives the book a sociological framework by explaining her methodology and her intent. Sociologists will undoubtedly quibble about its acceptability as a piece of scientific writing. Let them. This is a remarkably revealing portrait of a couple dealing with a debilitating chronic illness. Gutsy and very good.

Pub Date: March 1, 1995

ISBN: 1566392713

Page Count: 368

Publisher: Temple Univ.

Review Posted Online: N/A

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Feb. 15, 1995