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In the Body of the World: A Memoir of Cancer and Connection Audio CD – Audiobook, CD, Unabridged
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“Ensler reads with the rhythms and cadence of an angry, passionate poet, intense and fully aware of the devastating iron of that diagnosis…Raw, unrelenting, no-holds-barred listening.” ―AudioFile Magazine, Earphones Award winner
“Ensler's narration in this audio edition is rich and personal as the text itself.” ―Publishers Weekly
“Astonishing” ―Mary Oliver
“A masterpiece. Ensler has accomplished the impossible: weaving together huge, bold, world-changing ideas with beautiful writing, amazing metaphors, and original structure. Truly one of the most courageous and original works of our time.” ―Naomi Klein
“This book is a ride, a river ride through rapids and depths and shallows, dried-up eddies, whirlpools and torrents, crystal-clear pools and the vast ocean at the end. What a thrill and what a spear through the heart. I am astounded by the honesty and clarity of each word.” ―Elizabeth Lesser
“Ensler has written a profound and vulnerable book, full of tenderness and strength. I was amazed by the clarity of her vision and the power of her message about the body and self. This book isn't meant only for patients; it is meant for anyone whose life has intersected with illness--in short, for all of us.” ―Siddhartha Mukherjee
“I dare anyone to read In the Body of the World without crying, without crying out, without getting up and rising to this beautiful broken world with awe and gratitude. There is no pity here, only the raw force of courage in the face of fear and violence, and the healing grace of honesty.” ―Terry Tempest Williams
“Eve Ensler incarnates the pain of the women in the Congo, victims of rape and torture; and of the Earth, victim of so much desecration. Her heart and body are broken, her anger is like fire, and the passion of her writing rattles your soul. This is true literature and true activism.” ―Isabel Allende
“Eve Ensler's memoir is not only wild and raw and incredibly important, it's also that rarest of achievements--a compulsively readable, stunningly rendered work of art that delivers hope and truth, challenge and solace, sometimes simultaneously.” ―Isabel Allende
“A riveting story of survival.” ―Publishers Weekly
“Fierce, frank, raw and profoundly moving.” ―Kirkus Reviews
About the Author
Eve Ensler is an internationally bestselling author and an award-winning playwright whose works include The Vagina Monologues, The Good Body, Insecure at Last, and I Am an Emotional Creature, since adapted for the stage as Emotional Creature. She is the founder of V-Day, the global movement to end violence against women and girls, which has raised more than $90 million for local groups and activists, and inspired the global action One Billion Rising. Ensler lives in Paris and New York City.
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Ensler became absorbed in the stories of these women, especially in Congo, who had been so savagely raped that they developed fistulae (a fistula is a tear in the vaginal wall), which made them permanently incontinent. Ensler was so horrified by their ordeals that she vowed to create, for these women, a refuge where they could heal, physically and emotionally. She pays tribute to a brilliant and selfless, heroic doctor, Dr. Mukwege, who has performed surgery on these damaged women, and to the women who, even if they cannot walk, still sing and dance, and who, in turn, help others like themselves. Ensler began fund-raising for a place, called City of Joy, where women could receive surgery to heal their bodies AND, at the same time, rescue their souls.
Given her own history, Ensler was shocked to discover the irony of a tumor the size of a grapefruit in her uterus. Although aware that something was wrong, she ignored the tumor until it had spread throughout her reproductive system, threatening her, at 57, with disfigurement and death. She shows us the links between her own personal denial and our collective denial of phenomena like global warming, the destruction of species, and the use of rape as a weapon of war. Fully aware of this irony, she, who had written so compellingly about these women, developed the same sort of fistula as they, although she was lucky enough to have insurance and access to skilled care. For me, the story of Ensler's own ordeal was, the most compelling aspect of the book; I sometimes got a bit tired of her belaboring the correspondences between her own story and that of our damaged planet. I know that, for her, these correspondences are all-important, but even feminist environmentalist pacifists may tire of her incessant pontificating.
Still, In the Body of the World, is a bold, engrossing, impassioned plea for all of us to wake up to the damage we are doing ourselves, others, and our planet. Although this book is graphic, uncompromising and terrifying, it is ultimately a testament to survival, and to joy.
This is a memoir, a subjective examination of the treatment seen through the eyes of the patient. I find it profoundly moving as she recounts her days as a journalist in what used to be Yugoslavia as she and her translator try to understand war, the senseless abuse of so many women in so many ways.
We see many faces of this woman as she soldiers on through her therapy. It is a time to lay old ghosts to rest, even though it is painful. It is a time to be cosseted and loved by her friends. Part of this process is that she must learn how to grieve, to let go. She proposes that the cauterizing of the cancer by truth returns her to her ideal self. Her reward, perhaps, is the removal of the port, the system by which her drugs are infused into her body.
In due course she is taken off all the appendages that have supported her guts, ravaged by the cancer. It must have been an agonizing procedure. She endures it and returns with a medical team to the Congo where she had been active in women's health. It is the site of her ultimate triumph: the opening of the City of Joy, a sanctuary for those in need, where women can learn English, literary skills, and on and on.
It is moving but not maudlin.
I wondered how it might be to go into Eve's world of cancer. Dramatic? Sure, but isn't cancer treatment really quite dramatic? Isn't what's going on in the world around us dramatic? Of course. Both her telling of herself and some spoken word artsy fartsy stuff thrown in you can't escape the world of Eve. Because she is who she is, this probably wouldn't read very good as just a novel. I feel like it's probably best as an audiobook (read by Eve herself) so you really get her flavor.
If you already love Eve - this will be the same. Don't be fooled by a boring looking cover or it being about cancer. This is still the Eve you know and love and wish you were sometimes.
It was an inspiring story. There was never a dull moment. I appreciated the bridges that she built back to people who had mattered but they had hurt her; some bridges were opened to people who should have mattered but now do. She was constantly making connections, opening windows and building bridges. I wish more people could be this open. She revealed a lot and provided a way forward. I will try to remember her journey, when life gets tough. Connecting to people and projects that you love is a definite lesson that I learned from her memoir.
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This is a book I expect I will read more than once. Deeply moving.