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The Life of the Mind | Christine Smallwood

The Life of the Mind | Christine Smallwood

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As an adjunct professor of English with a draining and tedious courseload, Dorothy feels "like a janitor in the temple who continued to sweep because she had no idea what else to do but who had lost her belief in the essential sanctity of the enterprise." No one but her partner knows that she's just had a miscarriage, not even her therapists--Dorothy being the kind of person who begins seeing a second because she's too conflict-averse to break things off with the first. It's not so much that Dorothy is ashamed of the miscarriage itself as she is of the sense of purpose the prospect of motherhood had provided, of how much she'd wanted it. The freedom not to be a mother is one of the victories of feminism. So why does she feel like a failure? (That's another thing she's ashamed of.) The Life of the Mind is a novel about endings: of youth, of aspirations, of possibility, of the illusion that our minds can ever free us from the tyranny of our bodies. And yet our minds are all we have to make sense of a world largely out of our control--which is to say our world; a world where things happen, but there is no plot. And so Dorothy must make do with what she has, as the weeks pass and the bleeding subsides. Often witty and consistently alive to how stories end and begin again, The Life of the Mind is a moving, darkly funny, and starkly original examination of how life, as they say, goes on.
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