“This is how we live”: Witnessing and Testimony in BRCA Memoirs

Amy Boesky, Boston College
Vol. 32, No. 2/Vol. 33, No. 1 (Fall 2013/Spring 2014), 89-105

While postmodern texts often challenge the expected conventions of illness narrative, BRCA memoirs offer a particular kind of intervention, especially through their representation of time. Recent memoirs by Masha Gessen (Blood Matters) and Sarah Gabriel (Eating Pomegranates) resist in complex ways the linearity of what Arthur W. Frank has called the “restitution narrative.” Informed by repetition and the cyclical pattern of unfolding trauma, these memoirs present the lines between past and present, subject and kin as hauntingly blurred and indistinct.

Mary Wollstonecraft Sojourner Truth Margaret Atwood Abigail Adams Amy Tan H.D. Simone de Beauvoir Zora Neale Hurston Frances Burney Virginia Woolf

"The white saxifrage with the indented leafe is moste commended for the breakinge of the Stone."

— Turner, Herbal, III, 68 [1568]