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The Body Broken: A Memoir by [Greenberg, Lynne]
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The Body Broken: A Memoir Kindle Edition

4.7 out of 5 stars 27 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

Twenty-two years after recovering from a devastating car crash when she was 19, Greenberg, a professor at New York City's Hunter College, began experiencing unbearable neck pain. Several hospital visits and X-rays later, it turns out her miraculous recovery after the accident wasn't quite that: one of her vertebrae was still fractured. Greenberg chronicles the two years that follow: the contradicting doctor diagnoses; the descent into drugs and depression; the unraveling of her relationship with her two young children. Harrowing stuff, and when Greenberg keeps her prose spare and direct, as when she describes with cold, gory precision watching her leg being sewn back together, the result is powerful. But Greenberg's account often reads like an extended treatise on pain, overly reliant on metaphor as opposed to anecdote to describe her experience, comparing it, say, to Adam and Eve's fall in Milton's Paradise Lost (Greenberg's field is 17th-century British literature). Otherwise engaging, Greenberg's narrative is a revealing, personal journey through physical trauma.(Mar.)
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Review

Advance praise for The Body Broken

“We are all looking for lessons in courage. And family. And faith that some of our sweetest hours will come on the darkest days. All are here in Lynne Greenberg’s razor-sharp memoir of life and pain and the miracle of a family bound together by love.”
–Diane Sawyer, ABC News

“As a fellow survivor of a body broken, I find Greenberg’s memoir to be unsparing, accurate, and moving, especially in depicting her struggle to come to terms with residual chronic pain.”
–Maxine Kumin, Pulitzer Prize-winning author of Inside the Halo and Beyond: The Anatomy of a Recovery

“This book describes with shattering clarity the experience of relentless, horrifying pain. Drawing on a vast range of poetic sources, it gives voice both to the author’s loss of bodily and psychic coherence and to the process of redemption that followed, and it is written with lyricism, poignance, and wit. A rare testimony to the enmeshment of our fragility and our strength, it will provide crucial solace to those who are in pain, and insight to those who love them.”
–Andrew Solomon, National Book Award-winning author of The Noonday Demon: An Atlas of Depression

“Engaging . . . a revealing, personal journey through physical trauma.”
–Publishers Weekly


From the Hardcover edition.

Product Details

  • File Size: 358 KB
  • Print Length: 240 pages
  • Publisher: Random House (March 20, 2009)
  • Publication Date: March 24, 2009
  • Sold by: Random House LLC
  • Language: English
  • ASIN: B001Y35GCY
  • Text-to-Speech: Enabled
  • X-Ray:
  • Word Wise: Enabled
  • Lending: Not Enabled
  • Enhanced Typesetting: Not Enabled
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #326,658 Paid in Kindle Store (See Top 100 Paid in Kindle Store)
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Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

Format: Hardcover
Wow! What a good read! Lynne Greenberg's revealing and moving memoir recounts her journey into and out of the abyss of living with chronic pain. This is a beautifully written personal story that will touch anyone. She frankly discusses the trials of going through various medical therapies and takes the reader on an unsentimental ride through her personal hell and then back out - into a new, different life. This book will be healing to the millions of chronic pain sufferers and the millions more who love them and live through it with them.
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Format: Hardcover
There is a lot to love in this book. It is not weighed down by too much verbiage. The word choice is masterful. It is beautifully written. It is simultaneously simple and complex. The poems about pain that begin each chapter act as a needle and thread sewing the narrative together. Some of us have not spent a lot of time with poetry since college; this book offers a chance to revisit some beauties with fresh explications and insights. I was left wanting to pull out some of those old anthologies. As someone who had a similar experience with the medical community, I was particularly gratified by Greenberg's description of the extremes of anger, frustration, helplessness and self-blame that a patient with a difficult-to-diagnose condition goes through. Her treatment of the doctors is fair and nuanced--she neither deifies nor demonizes. Her honesty about her failings as a mother, as a sister and as a friend is refreshing. This book is a beautiful little treasure chest.
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Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
This gorgeous, haunting memoir portrays Greenberg's hellish journey into the world of chronic pain without ever asking for reader's pity, and with such glorious language that the experience of reading it is remarkably enjoyable, considering the grave subject matter. Given Greenberg's position as a literary scholar, it is not surprising that interwoven throughout the book's pages are a multitude of poems and quotes and references - all relating to the universal, timeless experience of pain. At the same time, the author is at ease discussing the more mundane aspects of her journey - trips to Starbucks with her best girlfriends, retail therapy, etc. This book is not necessarily of the "feel good memoir" genre - the author is quite honest about the ongoing nature of her condition. Still, there is a realness to her voice, and a believable coming-to-terms that is ultimately uplifting and honest. I would highly recommend this memoir to any person struggling with chronic pain or illness, or to loved ones eager to provide the incredible support that Greenberg received from family and friends throughout the darkest days of her ordeal.
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Format: Hardcover
Words cannot express how amazing this book is. It is as if someone narrated my every thought for the last 2 years and then translated it into beautiful prose. I found myself re-reading certain sentences and paragraphs over and over, equal parts awed and delighted.

I would love it if everyone read this book - then they could understand the deep abyss that chronic pain throws its sufferers into and stop asking why we can't just "think ourselves out of it." It is a baffling and soul-crushing condition and Greenberg is frank about how much her psyche suffered and still suffers. She has a much more realistic ending than most memoirs about chronic pain - one in which she is hopeful and is aware of the power of a positive attitude - but also one in which she still admits that the pain rules some days and does so with an iron fist.

Please, please, please read this if you suffer from chronic pain - just so you can feel the camaraderie and know you are not alone. Please, please, please read this if you love someone with chronic pain - as you will get an insight that we sufferers can rarely show (due to a combination of societal mores' pressure to not complain, stalwartness, and fear that we will scare you).
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Format: Hardcover
The message that I took away from this lady's experience is that even the most savvy, affluent and well-connected people can be yanked around by the medical care system and given bad advice ad nauseam. Sometimes with costly and disastrous effects. It seems that there are some upper tier doctors in the the most reknowned hospitals and clinics who don't like to admit to ignorance and who will unconscionably prescribe potentially lethal medications and complex surgical procedures that prolong or exacerbate one's illness. It's pretty scary--your medical care can turn out to be a crapshoot in some cases.
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Format: Hardcover
In the course of my research for a book partly concerned with torture, I found that there were surprisingly few decent books on pain, and that very few of those were even remotely literary. So this book is a rare bird indeed. Also surprisingly, despite the subject it's not depressing. Five stars.
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Format: Hardcover
Lynne Greenberg's "A Body Broken" is a memoir of her attempts to heal her excruciating headaches. In a way, it's similar to Paula Kamen's "All In My Head," which is also about having a chronic incurable headache. Greenberg's book is thoughtful and poetic, while Kamen uses humor to deal with her pain. Both women are fortunate to have supportive and understanding families. They also have friends and relatives who are MDs, although in both cases it turns out not to have been much help.

An English professor, Greenberg prefaces each chapter of her book with a poem. The poems are lovely, although I can't imagine reading a complex poem like "Paradise Lost" with a pounding headache. She writes beautifully about how poetry has given her a means of negotiating her constant pain--she must be a terrific teacher. As the other reviewers have pointed out, she writes without a shred of self-pity (neither does Kamen). Well worth reading.
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