Living Peacefully with Chronic Pain

Part memoir, part self-help guide, geared toward sufferers of chronic pain.
In this slim debut, Johnston draws on her long experience with prolonged physical pain to advise other sufferers. Unlike many books on the subject of chronic pain, this one focuses not on how to recover, but rather on how to accept its continued presence and find personal peace regardless. Even more unusually, Johnston presents her experiences and reflections in the form of a dialogue with an entity she considers to be the Holy Spirit. While readers who don’t share the author’s religious beliefs may find this framework off-putting, its exchange of questions, answers and elaborations turns out to be an effective mechanism for exploring Johnston’s ideas about pain and peace. Biblical quotes and references to Jesus abound, and Johnston’s advice focuses largely on tenets of Christian faith: e.g., “If we have an original thought, it comes from God, right?” Still, open-minded nonbelievers will also find valuable insights and perspectives for coping with pain. Much of the dialogue, for example, concerns the process of shifting beliefs and perceptions about experiences rather than changing the experiences themselves. “[P]ain,” Johnston writes, “is a thing and suffering is our response to the pain,” and her careful examination of how suffering comes into and out of being is one of the book’s strong points. At times, though, the rehashing of such common injunctions as “take good care of your body/temple” and “you must understand the importance of loving yourself” grows repetitive, and the shortage of further specific strategies for achieving those worthy goals can be frustrating. But while such concepts are likely familiar to many seasoned self-help readers, Johnston’s brief overview is an especially clear, compassionate distillation of them. Though it is by no means an exhaustive guide, this book may still prove useful as a starting point or refresher course for readers looking to achieve peaceful coexistence with persistent pain.

Far from comprehensive, but a thoughtful, well-balanced exploration of the author’s experience with chronic pain.

Pub Date: Aug. 19, 2011

ISBN: 978-0615491295

Page Count: 74

Publisher: E. Ann Johnston

Review Posted Online: Dec. 29, 2014

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Stricter than, say, Bergen Evans or W3 ("disinterested" means impartial — period), Strunk is in the last analysis...



Privately published by Strunk of Cornell in 1918 and revised by his student E. B. White in 1959, that "little book" is back again with more White updatings.

Stricter than, say, Bergen Evans or W3 ("disinterested" means impartial — period), Strunk is in the last analysis (whoops — "A bankrupt expression") a unique guide (which means "without like or equal").

Pub Date: May 15, 1972

ISBN: 0205632645

Page Count: 105

Publisher: Macmillan

Review Posted Online: Oct. 28, 2011

Kirkus Reviews Issue: May 1, 1972

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Analyzing his craft, a careful craftsman urges with Thoreauvian conviction that writers should simplify, simplify, simplify.


New York Times columnist and editorial board member delivers a slim book for aspiring writers, offering saws and sense, wisdom and waggery, biases and biting sarcasm.

Klinkenborg (Timothy; or, Notes of an Abject Reptile, 2006), who’s taught for decades, endeavors to keep things simple in his prose, and he urges other writers to do the same. (Note: He despises abuses of the word as, as he continually reminds readers.) In the early sections, the author ignores traditional paragraphing so that the text resembles a long free-verse poem. He urges readers to use short, clear sentences and to make sure each one is healthy before moving on; notes that it’s acceptable to start sentences with and and but; sees benefits in diagramming sentences; stresses that all writing is revision; periodically blasts the formulaic writing that many (most?) students learn in school; argues that knowing where you’re headed before you begin might be good for a vacation, but not for a piece of writing; and believes that writers must trust readers more, and trust themselves. Most of Klinkenborg’s advice is neither radical nor especially profound (“Turn to the poets. / Learn from them”), and the text suffers from a corrosive fallacy: that if his strategies work for him they will work for all. The final fifth of the text includes some passages from writers he admires (McPhee, Oates, Cheever) and some of his students’ awkward sentences, which he treats analytically but sometimes with a surprising sarcasm that veers near meanness. He includes examples of students’ dangling modifiers, malapropisms, errors of pronoun agreement, wordiness and other mistakes.

Analyzing his craft, a careful craftsman urges with Thoreauvian conviction that writers should simplify, simplify, simplify.

Pub Date: Aug. 7, 2012

ISBN: 978-0-307-26634-7

Page Count: 224

Publisher: Knopf

Review Posted Online: May 14, 2012

Kirkus Reviews Issue: June 15, 2012

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