- Paperback: 273 pages
- Publisher: Free Press (November 16, 2010)
- Language: English
- ISBN-10: 1439154724
- ISBN-13: 978-1439154724
- Product Dimensions: 5.5 x 0.9 x 8.4 inches
- Shipping Weight: 9.1 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
- Average Customer Review: 8 customer reviews
- Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #2,123,143 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
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Freud's Blind Spot: 23 Original Essays on Cherished, Estranged, Lost, Hurtful, Hopeful, Complicated Siblings Paperback – November 16, 2010
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From Publishers Weekly
The opportunity to explore relationships between siblings is rich with possibilities and fraught with dramatic moments, as 24 writers with blood siblings, half siblings, step siblings, and in one case, an imaginary sibling, write about their brothers and sisters with honesty, bravery, and no small amount of humor. Beginning the lineup is Steve Almond's (Rock and Roll Will Save Your Life) "The Brothers Grim," in which he entertains the reader as he tells one self-deprecating tale after another of his adolescent suffering at the hands of his brothers. In "Islanders," Eric Orner uses a graphic novel format to recount a teenage summer spent on Martha's Vineyard with his brother under the dark cloud of their parents' stormy relationship. The essays focus on the sibling bond of losing or caring for a parent; the loss of a sibling to sudden death or religious conversion; the arrival of new siblings through extramarital affairs or gender-reassignment surgery; and the unrequited longing for a sister, among other significant issues. At times, the selection and arrangement of the essays feels inconsistent, though there are plenty of standout essays such as Etgar Keret's "Ultra Orthodox Sister" and Daphne Beal's "The Age of Innocence." (Nov.) (c)
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This anthology of essays focuses on a subject about which Freud himself didn’t have much to say: siblings. Selected and edited by Albert (How This Night Is Different, 2006; The Book of Dahlia, 2008), the collection examines the ins and outs of sibling relationships. Albert herself confesses to having somewhat of an obsession with brother and sister dynamics, which may be because she is a self-described refugee from her own dysfunctional family. The meat of this anthology comes from authors from all walks of life examining the role their brothers and sisters, or lack thereof, played in their early lives. Some describe the pristine happiness of their upbringings, while others lament their emotionally challenging, occasionally scarring, and on rare occasion, violent childhoods. Contributors include Steve Almond, Rebecca Wolff, Peter Orner, Lauren Grodstein, Joanna Hershon, and Victor LaValle. The pace of this collection is quick and the editing tight, ultimately resulting in a fine-tuned, poignant, insightful, and often funny looking glass into the realm of siblings. --Julie Hunt
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Conversely, siblings form a bond created by years of shared experiences. I will be among the first my siblings call for help when they need to make hard decisions. I nearly always have someone I can go to a movie or grab drink with. And throughout all the relationships in my life, there are three people who know me nearly as well as I know myself and will always be there for me.
Freud's Blind Spot: 23 Original Essays on Cherished, Estranged, Lost, Hurtful, Hopeful, Complicated Siblings, edited by Elisa Albert, examines the strange forces that bring siblings together and drive them apart. The stories feature siblings as best friends, strangers, bullies, rivals and as memories. The theme throughout, although sometimes not stated, is that regardless of the dynamics, our relationships with our siblings are an important part of the equation as to who our adult selves turn out to be.
Albert does a great job at keeping the book cohesive, even with wildly different styles in writing, ranging from essay to comic to question and answer. The three sets of essays formatted as messages back and forth between siblings are fascinating. In two stories, one sibling will send the other a questionnaire about a variety of things: earliest memories, was it true that you...?,did you like me?, etc. The responses, as well as the questionnaire sent back in reply, tell a story and describe the people involved as well as any prose could. ("Did I make you a lesbian because I was so cute? Was I your first love?" "Yes. You still are, and always will be.") They also offer a model by which readers can engage in conversation with their own siblings.
In her essay Gender Studies, Mary Norris struggles as she reflects on her relationship with her brother and her sister, one in the same. Her brother Dennis undergoes gender-reassignment surgery and becomes Dee. Is Dee the same person as Dennis? Is it okay for Mary to mourn the loss of her brother before she can accept the new person in her life? How can she adjust habits developed over a lifetime? "This is my brother.... This is Dee." Because its not portrayed as an after school special, where people confront an issue, struggle, but ultimately live happily ever after, the reader is brought along with Mary in her pain and questions.
Other stories are more light-hearted reflections on childhood and growing up. On being too young to know the meaning of phrases, but suggesting to your mother, when she announces being pregnant with your new sibling, that maybe she get an abortion. When your relationship with your sister changes the day she sits behind you in the birthing tub to support you during childbirth. The bond the forms between brothers when they feel like hired help to their mother and turn roofing a house into a summer-long disaster.
Freud's Blind Spot offers something for every person who has a sibling, wants one or wishes one never entered his or her life. It will cause readers to pause and consider the reason behind their love or hate for the people who grew up with them. To reflect on people who are part of their lives through chance and the effect those people have on them now.