An Astonishing New Cancer Memoir Brings Radical Politics to the Genre

Anne Boyer: One of the things that happen when you get sick, especially if you particularly like to read, is that you get all these books in the mail. What I noticed was this incredible ideological onslaught treating everything as an individual experience as opposed to a collective, political one. All those struggles get put in these utterly rigid narrative containers in which we’re supposed to follow a sentimental heroine through the harrowing journey. It reproduces a sort of grim pleasure of watching women suffer. Cancer narratives are so, so burdened by this weight.

I think part of [the difference with The Undying] has to do with my being a Marxist feminist. That’s a political awakening from much earlier in my life. With economic troubles or troubles with sexual harassment or other kinds of gendered obstacles and violence, I decided that I could either see myself as loathsome and undeserving or I could expand beyond myself. I could not resolve to hate myself when I was young and these things were happening to me, so I began to reach out for a way to think about the world that didn’t require me to submit to the way that I was being treated inside of it. More here.

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