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Love and Fatigue in America [Hardcover]

Roger King
4.8 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (5 customer reviews)
RRP: £23.50
Price: £23.45 & FREE Delivery in the UK. Details
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Product details

  • Hardcover: 200 pages
  • Publisher: University of Wisconsin Press (15 Mar 2012)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0299287203
  • ISBN-13: 978-0299287207
  • Product Dimensions: 21.1 x 14.5 x 2.8 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 4.8 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (5 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 1,129,868 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Product Description

Book Description

Love and Fatigue in America records an Englishman’s decade-long journey through his newly adopted country in the company of a mystifying illness and a charismatic dog.

When he receives an unexpected invitation from an unfamiliar American university, he embraces it as a triumphant new beginning. Instead, on arrival, he is stricken with a persistent inability to stand up or think straight, and things quickly go wrong. Diagnosed with ME disease—chronic fatigue syndrome—he moves restlessly from state to state, woman to woman, and eccentric doctor to eccentric doctor, in a search for a love and a life suited to his new condition. The journey is simultaneously brave, absurd, and instructive.

Finding himself prostrate on beds and couches from Los Alamos to Albany, he hears the intimate stories offered by those he encounters—their histories, hurts, and hopes—and from these fragments an unsentimental map emerges of the inner life of a nation. Disability has shifted his interest in America from measuring its opportunities to taking the measure of its humanity. Forced to consider for himself the meaning of a healthy life and how best to nurture it, he incidentally delivers a report on the health of a country.

By turns insightful, comic, affecting, and profound, Roger King’s Love and Fatigue in America briskly compresses an illness, a nation, and an era through masterly blending of literary forms. In a work that defies categorization, and never loses its pace or poise, the debilitated narrator is, ironically, the most lively and fully awake figure in the book.

Customer Reviews

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Most Helpful Customer Reviews
2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Highly recommended read 10 Jun 2012
By Cynthia
While reading Roger King's novel, Love and Fatigue in America, I felt compelled to constantly put the book down and take a deep breath. It seemed as if the book was being written from inside my own body, precisely describing my own personal feelings and the myriad of odd symptoms that fluctuate from hour to hour. I have never before read a book which has spoken so directly to me or my life. I found myself feeling very sad for the suffering and constant loss the narrator endured but also, selfishly, feeling sorry for the losses in my own life.

The ease with which King describes the life of someone suffering from M.E./CFS without ever saying "Woe is me" is truly unique. He takes the reader on a journey, from a healthy excited young man looking forward to beginning a new life in America, to a man living life from the confines of bed: his life reduced not to what he sees out his window, but only to the branches and limbs that frame that window. He goes from living life on the outside, to living life inside his body. The illness has an existence of its own that wages war on the life he lived before becoming ill. We then follow him in his attempt to make a life for himself given the restrictions imposed by an illness that robs him of friends, lovers, employment and most of all, energy.

Although the book describes living with a chronic illness very accurately, it is also filled with humour and insights into life and medicine in America. The book is actually an enjoyable read - which is a tricky thing to do given the subject matter. It is neither morose nor self pitying; in fact, it is a great story and the reader is anxious to know how things unfold for the narrator. We like him even when he can't like himself.

If you have M.E.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A Great Book 12 Jun 2012
By akivah
In Love and Fatigue in America, Roger King delivers a unique book in a unique format. Part autobiography, part novel, at times part essay, this is a first person account of the experiences and impacts of a man trying to understand and come to terms with a sudden and overwhelming illness. The narrator's story is informative, sympathetic, insightful, frank, sometimes funny, sometimes sad, but always authentic.

While the author provides a rare and articulate window into the world of living with a chronic illness, this is not an "issue" book. It is also a book about relationships: with partners, colleagues, strangers, partners' children, pets, and with yourself. It is about what happens to those relationships, and to love and acceptance, when you wake up one day and all the ground rules have changed, without warning and, it turns out, irrevocably.

In that way, the book is also an exploration of the theme and phenomenon of being a stranger in a strange land. The narrator is a Brit dealing with the culture and customs of America, the land of the free and the home of the brave. But he is also a healthy, active adult coming to terms with inhabiting a body, mind and soul suddenly overtaken by illness, which brings its own journey of discovery, a new way of life, and which ultimately requires its own measure of bravery. And while we accompany the narrator on a physical journey across the United States, it is the journey into his understanding of his condition and how that shapes every aspect of his life that is the most compelling and rewarding.

Anyone living with a chronic illness will find in this book an insightful, powerful, and often uncannily accurate recounting of their own journey and experience.
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British-born author Roger King's take on America of the past twenty years is nothing if not revealing. In LOVE AND FATIGUE IN AMERICA, which he calls an "autobiographical novel," here, for example, are his thoughts on the First Gulf War, a time when he was living in Spokane, where a large part of the population belonged to, or had ties to, the army reserves.

"They agree, the reservists, in television interviews, that it is their duty to go and fight the Iraqis, though their knowledge of where Kuwait is, or who the Iraqis are, is shaky. They appear to have no sense of what I know firsthand to be true, that the American government is widely loathed in poor countries around the world, nor do they seem to have any knowledge of the ruthless instances that have made this so. They know themselves to be nice."

King, who worked in several very poor countries in Africa, knows, I assume, what he's talking about in regard to how poor countries feel about America. (Although the narrator in this 'novel' is never
named, for brevity's sake, I'm going to just call him by the author's name, since King.)

King contracted CFS (Chronic Fatigue Syndrome) just a couple months after his arrival in Spokane to teach at "Inland University," has been battling this little-understood disease ever since. Having grown up with the free medical care of socialized medicine, he is incredulous at the mess that the American health care system has become.

"In Britain there had been no paperwork, no dealing with money, no maze ... You remember visits to the doctor as blithe affairs. The burden of management customary to Americans strikes you as astonishing - staggering - in its complexity, trickery, and venality.
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