The Night-Side: Chronic Fatigue Syndrome and the Illness Experience

Overview

A sublime, sometimes humorous collection of personal essays about Skloot's struggle with chronic illness: from experimental drug trials and exotic alternative medicine to redefining his lifelong love affair with baseball. Called one of the "season's best books" by New Age Journal. Deeply moving, filled with wonder and grief, ultimately hopeful.
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Overview

A sublime, sometimes humorous collection of personal essays about Skloot's struggle with chronic illness: from experimental drug trials and exotic alternative medicine to redefining his lifelong love affair with baseball. Called one of the "season's best books" by New Age Journal. Deeply moving, filled with wonder and grief, ultimately hopeful.
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Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly - Publisher's Weekly
Anyone who writes about illness must quote Illness as Metaphor, and Skloot (Summer Blue) uses Susan Sontag's book for both the title and the epigraph: "Illness is the night-side of life," says Sontag. "Everyone who is born holds dual citizenship, in the kingdom of the well and in the kingdom of the sick." Before he got Chronic Fatigue Syndrome (CFS) in 1988, Skloot was, as he often reiterates, firmly a citizen of the former: a runner "with a corkboard of ribbons" and without "an ounce of fat," he became habitually weak, forgetful, flu-ish. He quit his job as a "Senior Public Policy Analyst for a diversified energy corporation" but continued to work on his writing, turning out these essays, many of which have appeared in magazines such as The Antioch Review, Threepenny Review and even JAMA: The Journal of the American Medical Association. One, which appeared in The Best American Essays of 1993, is an affecting description of life with a brain that is no longer agile. Two other early pieces are also worthwhile: his musings on being a research subject ("Here I am with an illness that too many people already suspect as being psychosomatic; what happens if I get better during the clinical trial and it turns out I've been getting the placebo?") and on his memories of his mother's carefully packaged apartment, in which everything was embalmed in Saran Wrap. The pieces that work best approach the illness indirectly. Without a larger philosophy or dry humor (his sections on alternative medicine compare badly with Spalding Gray's), Skloot's writing on his illness, especially one received with so little sympathy by the general public, seems self-indulgent. (July)
Library Journal
Devastated by chronic fatigue syndrome (CFS), award-winning poet, essayist, and novelist Skloot (Summer Blue, LJ 11/15/94) learned how serious illness can strike overnight and quickly rearrange every aspect of life. Over the next seven years, he went to astonishing lengths to find a cure for his incurable disease, undergoing some bizarre remedies: a double-blind experimental drug (ampligen) study, a visit to an Indian avatar in Germany, and Ayurvedic therapy in Vancouver. Skloot looks at his illness straight-on to explore Susan Sontag's "wild conundrum...about the healthiest way of being ill" (Illness as Metaphor, LJ 6/1/78). In the 12 essays reprinted here, which work well as a whole, he includes humor, baseball, poetry, music, and insights from Norman Cousins, Oliver Sacks, and others. An intelligent lay reader's guide, this is interesting but not essential reading. For comprehensive health collections.James Swanton, Harlem Hosp. Lib., New York
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9781885266316
  • Publisher: Story Line Press
  • Publication date: 9/28/1996
  • Pages: 208
  • Product dimensions: 5.48 (w) x 8.42 (h) x 0.60 (d)

Meet the Author

Floyd Skloot
Floyd Skloot
After an attack of viral-induced brain damage -- "overnight, I was geezered," he recalls -- author Floyd Skloot persevered in his writing. His account of the ordeal, In the Shadow of Memory, was selected as a Summer 2003 pick in our Discover Great New Writers program.

Good To Know

"I live in a small round house in the middle of 20 acres of forest on a hillside in remote western Oregon. My wife, Beverly, built the place before we were together. The silence, the isolation, the beauty all around me, the lack of edges to the space we live in, and the intimacy with which we live are all powerfully inspiring for my work."

"I'm a lifelong baseball fan, having grown up in Brooklyn when the Dodgers were still there, having played through my freshman year in college, having dreamed of covering center field for the Dodgers."

"I delight in reading baseball books and studying stats. I have a growing collection of old-time baseball caps and usually wear one when I write."

"My daughter, Rebecca Skloot, is also a writer. She's published her science writing widely, has been an editor and teacher, and is currently working on a nonfiction book under contract with Crown Books."

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    1. Hometown:
      Amity, Oregon
    1. Date of Birth:
      July 6, 1947
    2. Place of Birth:
      Brooklyn, New York
    1. Education:
      B.A., Franklin & Marshall College, 1969; M.A., Southern Illinois University, 1971
    2. Website:

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