Dialogue on Love

Dialogue on Love

4.09 (104 ratings by Goodreads)
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When she begins therapy for depression after breast cancer treatment, the author brings with her an extraordinarily open and critical mind, but also shyness about revealing herself. Resisting easy responses to issues of dependence, desire, and mortality, she warily commits to a male therapist who shares little of her cultural and intellectual world. Although not without pain, their improvised relationship is as unexpectedly pleasurable as her writing is unconventional: Sedgwick combines dialogue, verse, and even her therapist's notes to explore her interior life--and delivers and delicate and tender account of how we arrive at love.show more

Product details

  • Paperback | 240 pages
  • 139.7 x 213.36 x 15.24mm | 294.83g
  • Beacon Press
  • Boston, MA, United States
  • English
  • black & white illustrations
  • 0807029238
  • 9780807029237
  • 69,128

Review Text

Poetry, diary, dialogue, commentary: all of those and more combine in this complex and intimate recounting of the relationship between the author and her therapist. The form Sedgwick (English/CUNY Graduate Center) has chosen is similar to one called haibun, found in 17th-century Japanese literature, which intersperses prose with haiku. Here the haiku is derived from her prose reflections, which are also sprinkled with excerpts from her therapist's notes. Sedgwick brings to the therapy a "crew-cut, 250-pound, shy, middle-aged" writer who has had a recent mastectomy followed by chemotherapy, who is a respected scholar of English literature and a pioneer of queer studies (though she herself is heterosexual and has been married to the same man since she was 19 years old). Her goal is to "fit the pieces" of her self, shattered in the wake of the cancer and other events, back together - but not "the way they were." Her therapist acknowledges that he has always liked to take things apart and put them back together, plus he agrees to her other conditions, including that he be a feminist and not homophobic. On the face of it, the therapy followed an ordinary route, exploring childhood, relationships with parents and siblings, sexuality, concerns (or lack of them) about death, dreams, and fantasies (despite a sex life that was in reality relatively uneventful, her fantasies were of punishment and pain). However, Sedgwick's pieces do come back together in a different way: for example, she remains engaged with her work, but not driven; and her experience of her body changes. The wrap-up is startling but gives meaning to even the most banal episodes that have gone before. Some challenging as well as tender moments, but the studied format hides as much as it reveals about the patient and her therapist - and creates a journal that is more than a narrative but less than a poem. (Kirkus Reviews)show more

Rating details

104 ratings
4.09 out of 5 stars
5 43% (45)
4 34% (35)
3 15% (16)
2 5% (5)
1 3% (3)
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