Idea/Concept: Twilah Hiari's Regression explores, via a clever and twisty question-and-answer structure, the author's harrowing experiences with indifferent medical personnel, misdiagnoses, medicinal side effects, and institutionalization. The story is urgent, and the structural conceit original.
Prose: Line to line, Hiari is a strong stylist and incisive observer capable of stirring strong emotional responses from readers. While the story is often anguished, the prose is sharp, memorable, and often mordantly witty. That said, the repetitive nature of the narrative reduces the prose's freshness as the pages pass.
Originality: Hiari's story is an important, of-the-moment cry for greater empathy and understanding for patients whose chronic symptoms are not easily diagnosed. She recounts in vivid detail her misadventures over decades with a battalion of medical professionals who failed to diagnose, among other things, her apparent autism, sometimes treating her as a problem patient or a grifter eager to score meds or file malpractice suits. Hiari writes upsetting accounts of doctors' disinterest and hostility and ties the narrative together with the inventive device of question-and-answer sessions from what readers assume, at first, is an especially engaged therapist.
Execution: Despite its sharp prose and memorable detail, Hiari's story is by its very nature repetitive -- this is an account of cyclical suffering. The book covers similar situations again and again, often in protracted scenes, steeping readers at length in miseries that sometimes -- especially in the book's second half -- could be summarized rather than dramatized.
Date Submitted: October 09, 2019