WHAT I THOUGHT I KNEW by Alice Eve Cohen


A Memoir
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A blackly humorous, deeply personal story from a playwright and solo theater artist.

In 1999, Cohen (Writing and Theatre/The New School) was a 44-year-old divorcée raising an adopted daughter and dating a 34-year-old fellow performer. Her gynecological history was bleak—a DES daughter with an abnormal uterus, she had been told she was infertile and believed herself to be on the brink of menopause. When a hard lump appeared in her abdomen, she feared it was cancer. After some absurd misdiagnoses, however, she learned that she was six-months pregnant. In three “Acts,” Cohen reveals her reactions to this news and the ensuing complications of a high-risk pregnancy, possibly damaged fetus and lack of adequate medical insurance. “Unbridled Good Fortune” ends with the author considering an abortion. “What I Know” chronicles the three anguished and often indecisive months that culminated with the birth of her baby. In “An Unexpected Life,” Cohen discusses three therapy-filled years and, finally, a malpractice suit against the doctors who misdiagnosed her. Periodically, the author inserts lists titled “What I Know,” the items of which change as she learns new “facts” and as her thoughts and feelings about the situation change. At times her humor is harsh, particularly in her caricatures of her endocrinologist and of certain students in her storytelling class. The questions that Cohen deals with—whether or not to abort, to place her baby up for adoption or to sue for malpractice—are serious, even controversial, and her frankness in dealing with them can be disconcerting.

A memoir of a life in crisis that may challenge female readers to face some of their darkest fears.

Pub Date: July 13th, 2009
ISBN: 978-0-670-02095-9
Page count: 182pp
Publisher: Viking
Review Posted Online:
Kirkus Reviews Issue: May 1st, 2009


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