The Examined Life by Stephen Grosz
Two stars. I suppose.
I read this 200-page book in a day, after finding it while browsing at a book store in London. It looked interesting; it was stories by a psychoanalyst, talking about cases and what we can learn from these patients.
The stories are sometimes interesting, but mostly kind of boring. I’m not familiar enough with psychoanalysis to full get what they do (do they just keep asking questions until their patient comes up with answers?), but I’m not a big fan of how this one writes. The stories are told, and then … they end. Abruptly. With no discussion about what they really mean for the patient, or even why the author felt the need to include them in a book. That makes sense to a degree, I suppose, but honestly I can read stories about anyone anywhere and try analyze them; I was expecting more from this book.
I get the sense that the author is trying to be poignant at times, trying to get us to really understand ourselves and learn from these patients. He even ‘helpfully’ categorizes these stories into broad topics. But really, I didn’t get much out of this book beyond a couple of interesting stories, a couple of really boring stories, and a bunch of meh stories.
Apparently this was a best seller in the U.K. Reviews called it brilliant and compelling. I’m really not sure that it is anything close to either, unless by ‘brilliant’ they meant ‘good way for the author to make a bunch of money off of other peoples’ lives.’