SICK by Porochista Khakpour

SICK

A Memoir
Email this review

KIRKUS REVIEW

A distinguished Iranian-born writer and creative writing professor’s memoir of her struggle with trauma, drug addiction, mental illness, and late-stage Lyme disease.

Physical and mental pain had always defined Khakpour’s (The Last Illusion, 2014, etc.) life. A child of the Iranian Revolution, her earliest memories were of “pure anxiety.” She survived the trauma of living in a war zone and moved from Tehran to Los Angeles. As she grew into adolescence, she writes, “everything about my body felt wrong,” and her feelings of dysmorphia remained one of the constants in an often chaotic life. In college, Khakpour, who had long been fascinated by the “altered states” that drugs could produce, began a “casual [long-term] relationship” with cocaine and cultivated the “heroin chic” look fashionable during the 1990s. In addition to her experimentation with drugs, the author endured harrowing experiences with sexual assault and depression. Khakpour’s post-collegiate life brought with it a series of difficult, sometimes-abusive relationships, graduate school at Johns Hopkins, psychotropic drugs to control anxiety, insomnia, and mood disorders, severe health problems initially diagnosed as autoimmune disorders, and “a seesaw of struggling to survive in New York and then running home to LA and then escaping back to New York.” Her life stabilized for a short time after she accepted a temporary position at Bucknell University. When her health began to fail again, she sought treatment in the New Age “healing vortex” of Santa Fe; but soon after she left, she once again became a prescription pill “drug addict.” It was not until she returned temporarily to California that a doctor officially diagnosed her with a case of late-stage Lyme disease, which would mean permanent recurrences of the breakdowns she had fought to overcome. Lucid, eloquent, and unflinchingly honest, Khakpour’s book is not just about a woman’s relationship to illness, but also a remarkably trenchant reflection on personal and human frailty.

A courageously intimate memoir about living within a body that has “never felt at ease.”

Pub Date: June 5th, 2018
ISBN: 978-0-06-242873-8
Page count: 256pp
Publisher: Perennial/HarperCollins
Review Posted Online:
Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 15th, 2018




WOMEN IN THEIR OWN WORDS:

NonfictionOLD IN ART SCHOOL by Nell Irvin Painter
by Nell Irvin Painter
NonfictionMAKE TROUBLE by Cecile Richards
by Cecile Richards
NonfictionTHE SEASONS OF MY MOTHER by Marcia Gay Harden
by Marcia Gay Harden
NonfictionTHE GIRL WHO SMILED BEADS by Clemantine  Wamariya
by Clemantine Wamariya

MORE BY POROCHISTA KHAKPOUR

FictionTHE LAST ILLUSION by Porochista Khakpour
by Porochista Khakpour
FictionSONS AND OTHER FLAMMABLE OBJECTS by Porochista Khakpour
by Porochista Khakpour

SIMILAR BOOKS SUGGESTED BY OUR CRITICS:

NonfictionBELIEVE ME by Yolanda  Hadid
by Yolanda Hadid
NonfictionTHE ALCHEMY OF ILLNESS by Kat Duff
by Kat Duff