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Make It Scream, Make It Burn : Essays
by Leslie Jamison




Overview -
From the "astounding" (Entertainment Weekly), "spectacularly evocative" (The Atlantic), and "brilliant" (Los Angeles Times) author of the New York Times bestsellers The Recovering and The Empathy Exams comes a return to the essay form in this expansive book.

With the virtuosic synthesis of memoir, criticism, and journalism for which Leslie Jamison has been so widely acclaimed, the fourteen essays in Make It Scream, Make It Burn explore the oceanic depths of longing and the reverberations of obsession.

Among Jamison's subjects are 52 Blue, deemed "the loneliest whale in the world"; the eerie past-life memories of children; the devoted citizens of an online world called Second Life; the haunted landscape of the Sri Lankan Civil War; and an entire museum dedicated to the relics of broken relationships. Jamison follows these examinations to more personal reckonings -- with elusive men and ruptured romances, with marriage and maternity -- in essays about eloping in Las Vegas, becoming a stepmother, and giving birth.

Often compared to Joan Didion and Susan Sontag, and widely considered one of the defining voices of her generation, Jamison interrogates her own life with the same nuance and rigor she brings to her subjects. The result is a provocative reminder of the joy and sustenance that can be found in the unlikeliest of circumstances.

Finalist for the PEN/Diamonstein-Spielvogel Award for the Art of the Essay
One of the fall's most anticipated books: Time, Entertainment Weekly, O, Oprah Magazine, Boston Globe, Newsweek, Esquire, Seattle Times, Baltimore Sun, BuzzFeed, BookPage, The Millions, Marie Claire, Good Housekeeping, Minneapolis Star Tribune, Lit Hub, Women's Day, AV Club, Nylon, Bustle, Goop, Goodreads, Book Riot, Yahoo Lifestyle, Pacific Standard, The Week, and Romper.

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More About Make It Scream, Make It Burn by Leslie Jamison

 
 
 

Overview

From the "astounding" (Entertainment Weekly), "spectacularly evocative" (The Atlantic), and "brilliant" (Los Angeles Times) author of the New York Times bestsellers The Recovering and The Empathy Exams comes a return to the essay form in this expansive book.

With the virtuosic synthesis of memoir, criticism, and journalism for which Leslie Jamison has been so widely acclaimed, the fourteen essays in Make It Scream, Make It Burn explore the oceanic depths of longing and the reverberations of obsession.

Among Jamison's subjects are 52 Blue, deemed "the loneliest whale in the world"; the eerie past-life memories of children; the devoted citizens of an online world called Second Life; the haunted landscape of the Sri Lankan Civil War; and an entire museum dedicated to the relics of broken relationships. Jamison follows these examinations to more personal reckonings -- with elusive men and ruptured romances, with marriage and maternity -- in essays about eloping in Las Vegas, becoming a stepmother, and giving birth.

Often compared to Joan Didion and Susan Sontag, and widely considered one of the defining voices of her generation, Jamison interrogates her own life with the same nuance and rigor she brings to her subjects. The result is a provocative reminder of the joy and sustenance that can be found in the unlikeliest of circumstances.

Finalist for the PEN/Diamonstein-Spielvogel Award for the Art of the Essay
One of the fall's most anticipated books: Time, Entertainment Weekly, O, Oprah Magazine, Boston Globe, Newsweek, Esquire, Seattle Times, Baltimore Sun, BuzzFeed, BookPage, The Millions, Marie Claire, Good Housekeeping, Minneapolis Star Tribune, Lit Hub, Women's Day, AV Club, Nylon, Bustle, Goop, Goodreads, Book Riot, Yahoo Lifestyle, Pacific Standard, The Week, and Romper.

 

Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780316259637
  • ISBN-10: 0316259632
  • Publisher: Little Brown and Company
  • Publish Date: September 2019
  • Page Count: 272
  • Dimensions: 9.3 x 5.8 x 1.3 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 0.95 pounds


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BookPage Reviews

Make It Scream, Make It Burn

A tattoo that runs up the arm of acclaimed essayist Leslie Jamison reads Homo sum: humani nil a me alienum puto, or “I am human. Nothing human is alien to me.” Her new collection, Make It Scream, Make It Burn, puts her tattoo to the test. Jamison investigates outsiders: people who obsessively identify with a whale known as 52 Blue, people who believe their children have been reincarnated, people who linger in the online world of Second Life. She takes her subjects seriously, but she also finds herself at a loss to relate. Sometimes connection is impossible. Of her interaction with someone who doesn’t speak English, she writes, “Nothing that is human is alien to me, I would have told him, except I couldn’t, because some things are alien to me, like the Sinhalese language.”

Beyond the limits of relatability, she also explores the weightiness of one person trying to document the life of another. In my favorite essay, she traces the unraveling of Walker Evans and James Agee’s trip to the South, which they completed on Fortune magazine’s dime in 1936 and which resulted in the widely acclaimed Let Us Now Praise Famous Men in 1941. Her astute analysis of the differences between the draft of the magazine article and the published book blew me away.

She deepens her exploration of this theme in subsequent essays, detailing her own journalistic romp to a foreign land and the difficulties of trying to write about what she saw there, and also the way that feminists such as photographer Annie Appel have obsessively returned to their subjects to try and resist the limits of witnessing. Appel has documented herself alongside her Mexican subjects and has, over time, allowed her story to become intertwined with theirs. 

The perils of representation weigh on many people, certainly, but perhaps especially on artists. Jamison’s title Make It Scream comes from a review of Agee’s famous book by poet William Carlos Williams. For Williams, it is the duty of the artist to make life scream and smolder—to show the urgency that underlies and interconnects our lives. Nothing human is alien to me. For her readers’ sakes, I hope Jamison will keep pursuing this ideal.

 

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