What I’m Reading: A Child’s Life And Other Stories (Phoebe Gloeckner)

I guess I’m technically cheating at my own project here, as I’m reading Phoebe Gloeckner’s A Child’s Life and Other Stories for my academic work, but: I also don’t really care. Gloeckner is formally trained as a medical illustrator, which informs her work in interesting ways. A segment titled “Time out For Pain- three 3/4 views by Phoebe Gloeckner” interjects a brief narrative on the overlap between the medicalised nature of pain management, capitalist discourses of pain as a symptom of weakness/laziness, and drug addiction as a social stop-gap in place of good treatments for depression and anxiety that both references medical textbook illustrations by way of the framing (I’m thinking specifically of the 3/4 view here) and discourses that are woven through the remainder of the partially autobiographical (sometimes biomythological) text. This is not what at all what I sat down to write about, but it is the kind of writing that I really love: allow me to untangle how the observation I’ve just stumbled into relates in a meaty way to the book manuscript that I’m working on. The title caption “Time out For Pain” signals that the following segment’s content will in some way be concerned with pain. However, it equally signals that this turn towards pain is a change in course, presumably from the remainder of the text’s narrative. Which is kind of bonkers, because A Child’s Life is replete with images and iterations of pain: the various Gloeckner stand-ins experience sexual and emotional abuse, minor neglect, and the insidious kinds of trauma and abuse that are bound up in drug abuse (there are multiple depictions of drug addicts consenting to acts to which they might were they living a drug-free existence). Effectively, the segment “Time out For Pain,” then reflects on the manner in which the various traumas depicted in the text

are not treated as medically recognizable pain (at least, not at the time of writing- there are recent changes, I think, in this area). This is exciting news for me, as it presents a solid link to the work that I’ve done in a recent conference paper that looks at how Julie Doucet’s My Most Secret Desire is concerned with various kinds of risk.

What I’m Reading: A Child’s Life And Other Stories (Phoebe Gloeckner)

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