Monday, September 5, 2011

"In The Zoo", by Jean Stafford (1953)

The beautiful Jean Stafford.

That is, before the "uncouth, neurotic, psycopathic murder-poet" (AKA Robert Lowell) drove the two of them into a wall, conferring upon Jean defacement and hospital traumas that she would go on to sublimate in one of the most gruesome short stories I've ever winced through (The Interior Castle).

Keywords from the Literature, Art, and Medicine Database on that story say it all: Anesthesia, Doctor-Patient Relationship, Hospitalization, Medical Advances, Medical Testing, Obsession, Pain, Patient Experience, Physical Examination, Rebellion, Surgery, Trauma.

David Cronenberg (or Almodovar, if you're a September, 2011 Zeitgeister) eat your heart out.

This one is pretty visceral too. But more in a way that twangs at the heart strings like a raw, ol' blues song. Lots of parallels between this story and Edward Albee's similarly named one-act play - though I'm still not quite sure who got there first, chicken-and-egg-wise. I think it was Stafford.

PS For a reading of The Interior Castle, please make your way over to the preternaturally tasteful Miette's Bedtime Stories podcast.

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