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Out of Joint: A Private and Public Story of Arthritis (American Lives) Paperback – September 1, 2007

4.7 out of 5 stars 11 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

Felstiner brings a feminist's eye and a historian's tool kit to this narrative of her decades-long struggle with rheumatoid arthritis (RA), a crippling autoimmune disease that afflicts more than two million Americans. Felstiner (To Paint Her Life: Charlotte Salomon in the Nazi Era), a professor of history at San Francisco State University, traces the growing scientific understanding of RA, from the earliest accounts in medical antiquity to the latest theories of how pregnancy might trigger the disorder. She touches on treatments, from antimalarial drugs through cortisone and the now-blackballed painkiller Vioxx. Part of the American Lives Series, edited by Tobias Wolff, Felstiner's memoir suffers at times from self-indulgent prose and tiresome metaphors. Yet the book's total effect is powerful, and her major chords strike true: RA is a devastatingly disabling condition with steep private and public costs; its disproportionate effects on women have not been adequately addressed; its social, political and interpersonal implications are significant. In the end, Felstiner's story is as much about the complexities of belonging;as a woman, a feminist, a Jew, an intellectual;as it is about her illness. So it has something to discover for any reader, pained joints or otherwise. 10 b&w photos.
Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

Review

Out of Joint reminds us that the words we use as health professionals can have a profound negative effect on the recipient’s appraisal of the situation. . . . . This book is inspiring and easy to read.”—Sarah Ryan, Nursing Standard
(Sarah Ryan Nursing Standard )

"Felstiner brings a feminist's eye and a historian's tool kit to this narrative of her decades-long struggle with rheumatoid arthritis (RA), a crippling autoimmune disease that afflicts more than two million Americans. . . . The book's total effect is powerful, and her major chords strike true: RA is a devastatingly disabling condition with steep private and public costs; its disproportionate effects on women have not been adequately addressed; its social, political, and interpersonal implications are significant. In the end, Felstiner's story is as much about the complexities of belonging—as a woman, a feminist, a Jew, an intellectual—as it is about her illness. So it has something to discover for any reader, pained joints or otherwise."—Publishers Weekly
(Publishers Weekly )

"Felstiner proves not only an able historian but a powerful memoirist, deftly combining the private and the public. . . . Particularly compelling are her vivid accounts of how it actually feels to be her: not only the pain that can stop her from doing simple tasks or her problems with side effects of medications, but the tensions chronic illness can create in a marriage and the anxious fears that can flood the mind. . . . If chronicles of triumph over illness may be too upbeat a model for afflictions that worsen over time, Felstiner proves there is something to be gained from any experience, and something more to be gained from examining and writing about it."—Merle Rubin, Los Angeles Times
(Merle Rubin Los Angeles Times )

"Our species likes to make sense of things, to find a story to explain even sickness, even storms. In Out of Joint: A Private & Public Story of Arthritis, history professor Mary Felstiner looks for her story within the larger story of her disease. Like many people visited by illness, Felstiner, diagnosed with rheumatoid arthritis (RA) at age 28, wants to know why. In this artful and intelligent book, she examines this question from many angles—personal, medical historical. . . . Her candor and her research, as well as her sharp and graceful writing style, make Out of Joint an evocative and provocative read."—Frances Lefkowitz, Body + Soul
(Frances Lefkowitz Body + Soul )

"Out of Joint is superbly written and a must for anyone wishing to better understand rheumatoid arthritis."—ForeWord
(ForeWord )
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Product Details

  • Series: American Lives
  • Paperback: 222 pages
  • Publisher: Bison Books (September 1, 2007)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0803260296
  • ISBN-13: 978-0803260290
  • Product Dimensions: 7.9 x 0.5 x 8.5 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 9.6 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.7 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (11 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #180,605 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

Format: Hardcover
Finally, a book that addresses not only the physical effects but also the emotional effects of Rheumatoid Arthritis. Mary Felstiner graciously allows the reader to join her on an honest and difficult journey of pain and acceptance. She offers insight and understanding to a disease that does not get the attention it deserves. If you have an autoimmune disease or love someone that does, this book is a must read.
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Format: Hardcover
I enjoyed this book so greatly. I love the way Mary Felstiner approaches the subject of joints, jointedness, connection, from such varied angles, using documents of cultural, personal, and medical history. Magnificent!! What a huge accomplishment this book represents. Apart from all else, I've learned a staggering amount from this gifted author about the body in a cultural context, and this has illuminated a lot of questions in my own life.
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Format: Hardcover
Although I had intended to read Out of Joint slowly, chapter by chapter, once I began the momentum built until I stayed up extremely late one night to finish it. It is a gorgeous, haunting, painful, exhilarating, breathtaking book, and one that is as much poetry as powerful analysis. This is a deeply courageous book, one willing to stay inside the pain and the joints---I felt almost as if I were right in there, almost inside this body. The book conveys that bodily presence so beautifully, it is quite amazing. It also conveys both movement and stasis, a sense of the endlessness of pain, but through it all the movements of the author's mind, as she explored different facets of it, and in many different sites--library, clinic, home, mountainside, street, office, and classroom. I felt as if I were traveling along with her, on a sort of Pilgrim's Progress, on a quest, even if there is no ultimate resolution, though there are moments of release and exultation. This will become a classic text, not just about arthritis but about writing, and about memoir, and about the body. I hope it will be read widely everywhere. Many thanks for writing such a wise and generous and sensuous book, one that, even in the darkness, is full of light!
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Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
Mary Lowenthal Felstiner has written an important book on many levels. Out of Joint should become the classic for anyone struggling with a chronic problem, be it physical or mental. Mary has an amazing ability to express what so many of us feel ...but in an original, refreshing, and totally unique way.
I loved her refusal to quit or to accept that nothing more could be done. Like that energetic bunny, she just kept on going, searching for probable causes, exploring possible cures, and keeping a constant, sometimes hilarious, dialogue with herself. This book is also a lesson in how to go about family life and love the RIGHT way...an inspiration to us all.
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Format: Hardcover
Buy this book! And discover the magic which Mary

Felstiner, a prize-winning professor of history,

brings to words. This story about rheumatoid arthritis

is a page-turner. Felstiner's gift for mixing plain

speech with the technical and erudite is totally

astounding. Further, she demonstrates the healing

potential of narrative, a multi-faceted narrative

glinting with allusion. Through her account, Felstiner

manages to make us proud to be human, capable at the

same time of suffering and transcendence. Five stars.
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Format: Hardcover
As someone with inflammatory arthritis and an advocate for making arthritis more visible to society, I was so glad to hear Mary speak and read this book. We have been lacking any sort of exploration of arthritis and its effects. Arthritis is epidemic in this country, but it is still invisible. This is one more step for bringing it to light.

This book explores so many different angles- the emotional, the artistic, the physical, the social, the private, the public. Sometimes her writing meanders over into poetry and somehow explains medical terms with poetic expression.
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