THE FATIGUE ARTIST by Lynne Sharon Schwartz


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 A ruminative story of illness and healing that Schwartz (Leaving Brooklyn, 1989; Disturbances in the Field, 1983, etc.) makes as deep as a fever dream--with that same fitfulness and moments of heightened clarity. When Laura, a 40-year-old writer who lives in New York, begins to experience headaches, sore throats, and a dizzying exhaustion, she's not convinced that she really has an illness. She suspects it may just be some form of reaction to the facts of her life-- including the death of her reporter husband, who was caught in the crossfire of a drug raid two years earlier, and her on-again, off- again lover, ``Q,'' who manages to turn up in her life each time she thinks she's ready to go on without him. When Laura finally visits a doctor, she learns it actually is an illness that has downed her, a form of chronic fatigue virus, for which the doctor can offer no prescription beyond ``get plenty of rest.'' Rest she does, in her own restless way, seeking help from an acupuncturist and a tai chi teacher, taking a vacation with her stepdaughter, and, most of all, sorting through the scenes of her life until they form a picture she can understand and make peace with. That's when her recovery really begins. It's not a new idea that the healing process is actually a process of self-discovery, but Schwartz manages to make Laura's story all her own in its honesty, complexity, and finely drawn cast of characters: Even her low-key paean to alternative medicine comes off as something much more interesting than the New Age trendiness it might suggest. Not action-packed, but an intriguing journey through the metaphors of a modern illness--and certainly written with intensive care. (Literary Guild alternate selection)

Pub Date: June 5th, 1995
ISBN: 0-684-80247-3
Page count: 320pp
Publisher: Scribner
Review Posted Online:
Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 15th, 1995


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