Iranian American novelist Porochista Khakpour (The Last Illusion) is no stranger to suffering and the psychological torments of marginalization. As a child, she fled war and chaos in Iran. Her family eventually resettled in Los Angeles. From a young age, Khakpour harbored an inimical feeling of otherness as she and her parents tried to assimilate into American culture. Sick, however, centers on a more fundamental kind of alienation, that of the mind against one's own ill body. "I am a foreigner," she writes, "but in ways that go much deeper than I thought, under the epidermis and into the blood cells."
Khakpour suffers from advanced-stage Lyme disease. It took years to figure out what was causing severe, if irregular, anxiety, insomnia and debilitating weakness. She duly chronicles her medical journey, from doctor to doctor, and various tick-laden locales, all potential infection sites. Lyme disease is a mysterious and misunderstood illness. People often attribute the symptoms to psychiatric causes rather than pathogens, Khakpour explains. She doesn't hold back on medical professionals who dismiss her and others with the disease as simply crazy. Sick shines much needed light on the nature of Lyme disease and the way reinfections sneak up and devastate normal life.
A gifted literary writer, Khakpour takes her memoir beyond medical and technical aspects of illness. She traces its emotional impacts in her relationships with friends, lovers, her parents. She explores her own demons as well, her struggles with substance abuse and the vagaries of literary fortune. Sick is a hard-hitting memoir of honesty and self-reflection. --Scott Neuffer, writer, poet, editor of trampset