You Feel So Mortal: Essays on the Body (Hardcover)

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Peggy Shinner’s book of essays, YOU FEEL SO MORTAL, is a brilliant and engaging examination of the relationships we have with our bodies. Filled with sharp wit and good-natured wisdom, these essays consider such myriad subjects as feet, hair, bras, posture, plastic surgery and even shoplifting. Mixing the personal with the historical, Shinner investigates autopsies, athleticism, even her ‘Jewish feet’. 

What makes this collection so powerful is that all of us can relate; we all have bodies which are intricately tied to our identities. Haven’t we all at some time studied our own noses and feet--and eventual crow’s feet? Haven’t we sometimes desired different noses or eyes, straighter or thicker hair? When debating the notion of good posture as a reflection to our own morals, she writes, “We have a whole vocabulary built around posture; that to slouch belies, indeed violates, a moral imperative in our culture. Slumping isn’t just ugly or bad for your health; it diminishes your entire being.” She wonders if Obama’s infamous bow to Emperor Akihito of Japan in 2009--at nearly ninety degrees--was going too far.

Shinner’s essays stay with you long after reading them. By investigating the mechanics of her own anatomy, by peeling away the strata of her own physical form, she shows us ours.

— From You Feel So Mortal (Peggy Shiner)

Description


Feet, bras, autopsies, hair--Peggy Shinner takes an honest, unflinching look at all of them in You Feel So Mortal, a collection of searing and witty essays about the body: her own body, female and Jewish; those of her parents, the bodies she came from; and the collective body, with all its historical, social, and political implications. What, she asks, does this whole mess of bones, muscles, organs, and soul mean? Searching for answers, she turns her keen narrative sense to body image, gender, ethnic history, and familial legacy, exploring what it means to live in our bodies and to leave them behind.

Over the course of twelve essays, Shinner holds a mirror up to the complex desires, fears, confusions, and mysteries that shape our bodily perceptions. Driven by the collision between herself and the larger world, she examines her feet through the often-skewed lens of history to understand what makes them, in the eyes of some, decidedly Jewish; considers bras, breasts, and the storied skills of the bra fitter; asks, from the perspective of a confused and grieving daughter, what it means to cut the body open; and takes a reeling time-trip through myth, culture, and history to look at women's hair in ancient Rome, Laos, France, Syria, Cuba, India, and her own past. Some pieces investigate the body under emotional or physical duress, while others use the body to consider personal heritage and legacy. Throughout, Shinner writes with elegance and assurance, weaving her wide-ranging thoughts into a firm and fascinating fabric.

Turning the category of body books on, well, its ear, You Feel So Mortal offers a probing view of our preoccupation with the body that is both idiosyncratic and universal, leaving us with the deep satisfaction of our shared humanity.

About the Author


A lifelong Chicagoan, Peggy Shinnerteaches in the MFA in creative writing program at Northwestern University."
Product Details
ISBN: 9780226105277
ISBN-10: 022610527X
Publisher: University of Chicago Press
Publication Date: March 19th, 2014
Pages: 199
Language: English