On Immunity by Eula Biss, in the Chicago Tribune

Friday, October 10, 2014

Earlier this week I spoke of Eula Biss's first book, The Balloonists, and how it made me think. This weekend, in the Chicago Tribune, I'm reflecting on Biss's new book, On Immunity, a book that has been generating much press for its artful exploration of the social ramifications of personal health decisions. My review begins like this, below, and continues here.

You read Eula Biss' new book slowly, with care. You are not sure, at first, where it is going. The topic is immunity, also inoculation, also vaccination, epidemics, social responsibility, vampirism and the impossibility of completely knowing. There are episodes of bright, emboldened insight. There are incidents — sometimes still and sometimes cinematic — of personal story. There are playground questions and interviews with scientists, Achilles and Dracula, myths and birth and a child sleeping. There are others, and there is us. There are the invisible airborne germs and the visible, struck down dying.


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