Trachtenberg (Seven Tattoos) wryly observes: "Everybody suffers, but Americans have the peculiar delusion that they're exempt from suffering." He shared in this denial until a friend died of cancer, and then he began to ask questions. "Most of these are unanswerable," he admits: Why me? How do I endure? What is just? What does my suffering say about me? about God? And what do I owe those who suffer? This book is "a layman's response" to unimaginable anguish, a collection of powerful stories rather than a philosophical treatise. Writing movingly about victims and survivors of natural disasters, war, genocide, domestic violence, addiction, illness, suicide and injustice, he deftly intermingles their stories with observations from religion, philosophy and literature. Not everyone will want to face this much misery, and Trachtenberg offers no easy solutions. His book, however, like Andrew Solomon's The Noonday Demon: An Atlas of Depression, succeeds because it asks the right questions, calls on the experience of articulate witnesses, andthrough skillful narrative and trenchant observationbeguiles the reader into facing heartbreaking reality. (Aug. 27) Copyright 2008 Reed Business Information.
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