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Jessie Greengrass Ì 6 summary

T selfish too to have a child and stay the same or not to have one unless the only honest choice would have been to try to become this kinder version of myself without the need to bring another into it Sight is about X rays psychoanalysi There is some beautiful writing here particularly the meditations on grief The whole thing fails though because mostly what’s here is pedantic dense prose academic than fictional It’s not a novel IMHO—it’s an overly long rather pretentious essay; while I cannot recommend it some other great readers out there certainly doI have much much to say in my BookTube review Engendering Song unless the only honest choice would have been to try to become this kinder version of myself without the need to bring another into it Sight is about X rays psychoanalysi There is some beautiful writing here particularly the meditations on grief The whole thing fails though because mostly what’s here is pedantic dense prose academic than fictional It’s not a novel IMHO—it’s an overly long rather pretentious essay; while I cannot recommend it some other great readers out there certainly doI have much much to say in my BookTube review

read ¶ PDF, eBook or Kindle ePUB Ì Jessie Greengrass

Sight by Jessie Greengrass

The extraordinary first novel from the author of the prizewinning An Account of the Decline of the Great Auk According to One Who Saw ItIt seemed at times an act of profound selfishness to have a child so that I might become a parent; bu I believe this might be the first book that made me start comprehending what it means to be a parent Engrossing smart and beautify written novel

free download Sight by Jessie Greengrass

S and the origins of modern surgery It is about being a parent and being a child Fiercely intelligent brilliantly written and suffused with something close to forgiveness it is a novel about how we see others and how we imagine ourselves Hmmm Lots of conflicting feelings about this one but the I've thought about this book the less I've liked it Video review here


10 thoughts on “Sight by Jessie Greengrass

  1. says:

    I knew I wanted to read Jessie Greengrass’s debut novel from the moment I first read about it SHORTLISTED FOR THE WOMAN’S PRIZE FOR FICTION 2018It took two weeks for my hardcopy to arrive in the mail after I ordered it I felt very drawn to this novel — very reflective very literary very much a woman’s book I did plenty of my own reflection as well “Sight” is about being a parent and a childbirth and death The subject of mother’s women children birth and death sits with me deeper this time of year May June than any other My own birthday is at the end of May My mother’s was the first week in June My older sister’s the end of June our tripod female birthday’s growing up without a man in our houseand my mother died in June May is also Mother’s Day My two daughters call May ‘mommy month’ The way I remember the busy years of parenting our daughters was May was so busy with their activities theatre performances swim meets etc I uietly felt loss in the shuffle I knew I had a birthday Mother’s Day in May but some of those years were ‘kids month’ in my eyes Yesterday the movie “Tully” opened with Charlie Theron It tore me up A movie about motherhood The performance by Theron was so real so raw I was aching with tears I admit to being extra sensitive these days too But every mother could relate to the exhaustionif nothing else May is suppose to be my ‘happy’ month My daughters will be home visiting soonBeautiful grown adults here to enjoy our relationships no longer do I need to rush around from the theater to the swimming pool It really is ‘mommy month’ now ButI’m looking at life in ways these days I never did before and it’s somewhat frightening STILL GRATEFULjust a little scaredlife has been throwing a lot of challenges all at once I knew it would take effort to go to the movie yesterday For a girl who loves to hike as much as reading I’m struggling with walking to my car from the front door of my house these days without pain I woke up from my last ‘nose repair’ surgery two weeks ago with some nerve problem coming from my spin I’m in physical therapy almost daily with a scheduled MRI this week but as I was struggling walking slow to the movie — I notice every person in wheel chairs or people with walkers with ‘fear’and sadness I already have a bionic ankle which will need replacement again in about 7 10 years Walking is high on my list of important Since I turned 65 last May it’s been one thing after another the shit kept hitting the fan with medical physical thingsskin cancer loss 12 of a nose 4 surgeriesosteoporosis diagnosisnow struggling with walking?and for a little over 2 months nowI live with painful ulcer sores in the inside of my mouth It’s an autoimmune disease called Lichen Planus I’m still trying to get it to go away No success yet none of the medications have worked Sowhy share all this? Sometimes a book a movie or both lands in our hands when we need it most The uestion I’m sitting with is what am I to take from this book? From the movie yesterday I tie them both together for some reasonIt’s MOTHER’SFEMALE MONTHThis book is a powerful reminder HAPPY MOTHER’S DAY to all my female friends here even if not a mother as all women are mothers A couple thoughtsthen I’ll focus directly on the novel “SIGHT”1I wondered how I would have felt about this book if I read it when my mother was alive and before giving birth I think it would have been incredibly beneficial2I’d love my daughters to read this book not yetbut when they are in another cycle of their lives they don’t have children nor do they plan tobut I believe every woman goes through the ‘mothering stage’ at one time or another in some form in their lives Now about SightIt’s not a book for everyone But I do think almost any reader who appreciates literary fiction at all would ‘at least’ be incredibly impressed and moved by Jessie Greengrass’s stunning writing Hard to believe this is a debut The narrator’s recollections are of her mother — her mother’s death —and of her grandmother who was a psychoanalyst Intertwined the narrator shares major medical discoveries the X Ray by Wilhelm RontgenSigmund Freud’s workand science about the anatomy of pregnant bodies I found the science history of the book interesting but less absorbing than when the narrator was personal grappling with grief and or worry directly connected with her own life She and Johannes definitely wanted to have a baby but she was sincerely worriedwould she be a good mother? Fear hit her hard while caring for her terminally ill mother The recollection shorty after her mother died not only moved me but I reflected on a similar experience with my own mother My mom died alone She was found dead on her kitchen floor I have replayed her moments before her death a million times Buta specific memory came to me when we were almost happy togetherAND SO WAS OUR NARRATOR WITH HER MOTHER“At last even with me always present the work of caring for my mother at home became too much One morning struggling from her bed to the bathroom pushing a walking frame in front of her she stumbled and fell sitting down heavily on the carpet She was unhurt but no longer had the strength to stand back up and although for a while I tried to right her tugging her this way and that bringing various items of furniture to use as props or levers I was unable to lift her weight I had to call an ambulance because she wasn’t a priority we sat for hours side by side on the bedroom floor waiting for it to arrive I made us lunch sandwiches to eat on our knees the sort I have picnic she had made me sometimes as a child on rainy Saturdays and the fragile cast of this memory brought a kind of complicity between us a resurgence of the intimacy that we had once possessed so that for a while it was almost as though we were happy” As for thoughts of becoming a mother“Sometimes when I saw a woman in a café pick up a baby from a pram I felt a weight in my own arms a heaviness where nothing was and the force of my longing for a child was such that I had to turn away but still I could only feel how impossible it was that I should ever manage such complicated love” And just before giving birth“ I find that when I think of my mother now it is not have that version of herself which she became when ill nor of how was when throughout my childhood compromise forced her into unspectacular unhappiness but rather it is at this woman whom I never knew whose face bends down to meet her child’s whose hands I close who smiles I feel such tenderness towards her She must have known so little then of what it is to have a child but had to learn it all from scratch and did — as I have done and all the rest of us learning from the moment we are born how to be one single version of ourselves with all the losses that entails I am so used to thinking of my mother is someone who is complete her life concluded that to imagine her at this moment caught during those few weeks when everything was briefly and for both of us possibility is to feel her startlingly close her death unwound She is not shut and done with but persists and I am glad” Really beautifultenderemotional heartfeltpoignant


  2. says:

    Update Nine months on from my original review my not particularly hard to make prediction of a Wellcome prize longlisting for this brilliant book has come true I had no understanding of the drive to exhume that now turns my uiet moments into imperfect acts of reminiscence how it is to feel that one must note each detail of one’s thoughts in case that thing should pass unseen which might otherwise provide the key laying out the shadows of the bones which rib and arch and hold the whole togetherIt strikes me as extraordinary now that we should be so hidden from ourselves our bodies and our minds so inaccessible in such large part uncharted but there is a thrill to it too that same mixture of terror and uickening which confronts us where underneath the sea the light gives out and unnamed creatures float I read this book as part of its longlisting for the 2018 Women’s Prize although I had been aware of the book from some early reviews and had expected it to make the longlist I am not surprised to see it shortlisted“Sight” is the author’s debut novel after a critically acclaimed book of short stories I can see and can understand that this book may not be to the taste of many readers – but I feel that what others do not like about the book is what I most enjoyedA FT review by Sam Leith described it rather condescendingly in my view as a certain sort of literary novel in which not much happens and with musings expressed in a mannered register with very little resemblance to the way the average 21st century person talks In contrast I do not expect literary fiction to be plot heavy my fellow Goodreads reviewer Paul has often remarked of the “spoiler” tag on Goodreads; that by definition a book which has a plot which can be spoiled is already flawed Further I do not read literature to reproduce “say like how the average girl kind of talks?”From unfavourable or neutral Goodreads reviewers the book has drawn comparison both to Rachel Cusk and to WG Sebald whereas I regarded these comparisons as something that attracted me to the book and in both cases can see the links perhaps a double aspect to the link in both cases of Cusk her book on motherhood and her annihilated perspective style of Sebald his weaving of historical fact into fiction and in a reference to East Anglian beaches albeit the novel has style of its own The book’s premise is simple – our unnamed narrator married to Johannes and with a young daughter is pregnant with their second child She reflects on her relationships with her mother grandmother and daughters born and unborn and on her past and future roles herself as daughter granddaughter and mother and on the transition between these relationships as well as that from child to adolescence to adulthoodThe narrator is a voracious reader and after the death of her mother before marrying she spends time in the Wellcome library as did the author herself writing the book searching through the medicine books there in the hope she might find the fact which would make sense of my grown unhappiness allowing me to peel back the obscurant layers of myself and lay bare at last the solid structure underneath her uest described as I sought among so many books a way to understand myself by analogy a pattern recognised in other lives which might be drawn across my own to give it shape and given shape to give it impetus directionAs an aside – the Wellcome Trust sponsors one of the most intriguing book prizes in the UK and this book must surely be a contender for the 2019 PrizeThis search seems to give her book a shape and pattern – the book being effectively rearranged in three parts – each concentrating on a particular relationship respectively her mother her psychoanalyst grandmother and her unborn daughter and on a scientific figure Wilhelm Röntgen – who discovered x rays Sigmund Freud and his children John Hunter – a pioneering surgeon and collector who helped introduce science back to the practice of medicine his brother William and the anatomical sketches they commissioned from Jan van Rymsdyk including of the dissection of a heavily pregnant woman with a full term fetus Initially these sections can seem disjointed both within themselves between the narrators reflections on her life and the scientific parts and between the different sections – but gradually the reader uncovers the overlaps between these parts – the recurring themes of stripping apart examination of transitions of boundaries of the difference and interaction between the superficial and deepAt this point and to give a flavour for the book and simply because I noted down so much of the book – the book being littered with post it notes when I finished a number of examples are usefulOn something which the narrator obsesses about – that Röntgen handed in his first paper on X rays on the same day the Lumière brothers first publically showed their collection of cinematography Rontgen had seen all that had been solid go towards transparency Opaue materials wood stone his own flesh – had been reduced for him to shadowed outline leaving the image of a substrate world spread out across a photographic plate a catalogue of metal and bone and all that would not rot to set against cinema’s preservation of surface – “The initial excitement of the public at x rays and a link forward to Freud’s work hope that knowing the constitution of their bodies they might be granted understanding of their mindsFreud and the Vienna Psychoanalytic society – this earnest group of men saw themselves as architects of a future in which clarity was assured and all the convoluted crenellations of the mind would be unfoldedHer grandmother taking about analysis told her Without reflection without the capacity to trace our lives backwards and pick the patterns out we become liable to act as animals do minus foresight and according to a set of governing laws which we have never taken the trouble to explore Without reflection we do little than drift upon the surface of things and self determination is an illusion And later When a person has gained the skills necessary to explore the territory for themselves to unpack their own minds and begin to understand the contents they might start the work necessary to make their experience their behaviour meaningful and then at last they might start to become transparent to themselvesComparing her pregnant self to Susini’s Anatomical Venus a clear link to the sketches of van Rymsdyk I imagine how I would look laid out like this formed into layers each one a shell demountable and at the centre of it the indivisible nut my child makes and how then all of it might be removed stacked carefully up beside my open undecaying carcassOn her daughter growing up Now she stands apart and I must reach for her on each occasion a little further until it seems her progress towards adulthood is a kind of disappearance and that I know her less and less the she becomes herselfHer mother’s illness shortly after twenty one – her need for me forcing into reverse that inevitable process of separation which was the work of adolescenceSorting through her mother’s possessions To pick through dusty boxes to sift through memories which fray and tear like ageing paper in an effort to find out who we are is to avoid the responsibility of choice since when it comes to it we only have ourselves now and the ever narrowing cone of what we might enactWhen tending to her child I see the outline of my mother’s hands beneath the skin of mine and I hear her voice in mine performing the liturgy of endearments those sibilant invitations to returning sleep – and I wonder if these things are soothing in themselves or if it is rather that through generational repetition they have become that way a memory taught and retaught the epigenetics of comfort I feel memory as enactment and my mother my grandmother in nay hands and my arms a half presence no longer lostWhat I found particularly clever about this book was the way that its own subject matter becomes a meta commentary on how the book itself is constructed for example the importance of the boundaries between the scientific historical sections and those sections with the narrators own musings; the way that layers are peeled back examined and later reassembled – with the superficial in literary and anatomical terms contrasted with the deep; the importance of the “bare bones” of the novel’s structure overlaid with the interwoven complexity of the themes that run like blood vessels and nerves through it Even the author’s idiosyncrasies of punctuation with paragraphs and sentences ending with “ – “ see the Röntgen example above emphasises the idea of boundary and transition I found the descriptions of the process of bereavement moving For example on realising she cannot bleed her mother’s radiators reset her boiler or replace the salt in her dishwater This is where grief is found in these suddenly unfilled cracks these responsibilities – minute habitual – which have lain elsewhere for years and which having failed amongst grief’s greater broil to be reapportioned are overlooked in favour of the dramatic until even the ordinary starts to crumbleI also loved and particularly identified albeit very imperfectly as the father some of the descriptions of pregnancy in the third partOn welcoming a second child while making the first still feel full loved A reminder to our daughter that completion is elastic and she was enough even as we planned her augmentationDifferences in her and Johannes view of pregnancy What I felt as a set of prohibitions and a physical incapacity a slow fast remaking of my own biology was for him hardly than anticipation like waiting for Christmas to comeThen how she describes her feelings and experiences watching a foetal heart trace her meetings with consultants her pregnancy from the day the baby was found breech a series of waits on uncomfortable chairs clutching plastic cups from the water fountain in the corner of the waiting room undergoing an ECV the early stages of induction two days spent walking round and round the hospital car park in the hope labour might begin and their contrast with its violent ending and birth as a ten hour lesson in topographyI also found the inadvertent links with other Women’s Prize books fascinating Freud considering his youngest daughter and eventual collaborator and continuer of his work his Anna Antigone linking to Home Fire; On Johannes before the birth He would not feel the child’s weight until he held it in his arms – linking to the most harrowing aspects of The Trick to TimeOverall I found this an outstanding book


  3. says:

    I believe this might be the first book that made me start comprehending what it means to be a parent Engrossing smart and beautify written novel


  4. says:

    Like my GR friends Neil and Sarah I thought I would give this book 2 stars while reading it but then ended up rating it higher and I guess the reason for this is that the core idea of the text is good but the execution is severely lacking Greengrass plays with the concepts of sight and insight and how the desire to see the world and to understand it are intertwined Her protagonist is a woman who is expecting her second child and a lot of the story is her contemplating and trying to understand her roles as a mother a partner a daughter and a granddaughter Which brings us to the the first issue I had with the book Her thoughts and observations are pretty unoriginal and also overblown in a sense that many cases of stating the obvious are presented as cutting edge ideas which makes for an annoying reading experience What is new and original about the text though is how Greengrass creates a montage in which she juxtaposes her protagonist's musings with other people's uest to gain new perspectives and insights while balancing family relations namely The Brothers Lumière Auguste and Louis revolutionized the concept of seeing by inventing the cinematograph which means that they were the first filmmakers in history; Wilhelm Conrad Röntgen and his wife Bertha Röntgen of course invented the X ray he literally looked inside people; Sigmund Freud and his daughter Anna The inventor of psychoanalysis wanted to look inside his patient's minds; John Hunter and his brother William They were pioneers as surgeons and anatomists soyou get the ideaUnfortunately the montage techniue is very clumsy with Greengrass simply interspersing the text with huge paragraphs about the inventors and scientists named above it's not exactly meeting the Clemens Meyer elegance standard for postmodern extravanganza if you know what I mean Plus the author is guilty of another literary crime She is explaining her concept to us in the text We're not stupid Greengrass we get it especially as you are really really hammering it home Good basic idea but for me this was not an enjoyable book


  5. says:

    The prospect of having children can be exciting but also terrifying Luckily it's something I've never strongly desired so I'm satisfied in the role of uncle godfather and sometimes babysitter to friends' children However some reasons I'd be frightened of having children beyond a total ignorance of how to care for them is a dread of making some irreparable mistake and also the inability of protecting them from experiencing pain at some point Jessie Greengrass describes this as “the overwhelming fear of fucking up that having children brings the awareness of the impossibility of not causing hurt like falling into endless water” Her debut novel “Sight” is a reflection on the process of having children and why her narrator is particularly self conscious about the continuation of her lineage But than that it's a remarkably poignant meditation on the internal and external levels of our mental and physical reality The narrator is a young woman who cared for her mother during her terminal illness and now faces the prospect of becoming a mother herself She sifts through her personal past and considers the lives of disparate individuals such as Sigmund his daughter Anna Freud Wilhelm Röntgen the first man who produced and published scientific studies of X rays and scientistsurgeon John Hunter In doing so she embarks on a journey into how she might allow her child to see the multiple layers of life and thus pass on an abiding sense of happinessRead my full review of Sight by Jessie Greengrass on LonesomeReader


  6. says:

    There is some beautiful writing here particularly the meditations on grief The whole thing fails though because mostly what’s here is pedantic dense prose academic than fictional It’s not a novel IMHO—it’s an overly long rather pretentious essay; while I cannot recommend it some other great readers out there certainly doI have much much to say in my BookTube review


  7. says:

    Hmmm Lots of conflicting feelings about this one but the I've thought about this book the less I've liked it Video review here


  8. says:

    Not my kind of book I can see why some readers love it but the self absorbed first person narrator un annamed twenty something woman being pregnant with her second child just bored me The best parts were the sections exploring the lives of historical figures like Sigmund Freud Wilhelm Conrad Röntgen Henry Thomson and John Hunter


  9. says:

    This novel shortlisted for the Women's Prize for Fiction is a braided novel about motherhood and scientific discovery x rays psychoanalysis and surgery The writing style reminds me of Motherhood by Sheila Heti where the narrator feels like the author and I had to keep reminding myself that it is fiction I had to push through it at times but ultimately was glad I did as it had some resonance with my own recent experiences especially those of having a parent die in hospice and what you think about during and after what the truth of that experience isI wanted a child fiercely but couldn't imagine myself pregnant or a mother seeing only how I was now or how I thought I was singular centreless afraid I was terrified of the irrevocability of birth and what came after it how the raising of a child that unduckable responsibility might turn each of my actions into weighted accidents moulding another life without intention into unpropitious shapes and caught between these two poles my desire my fearThis is where grief is found in these suddenly unfilled cracks these responsibilities minute habitual which have lain elsewhere for years and which having failed amongst grief's greater broil to be reapportioned are overlooked in favour of the dramatic until even the ordinary starts to crumbleLove for my mother was not distinct from actionThrough those last long months though the physical intimacy which her illness demanded of us left no space for any metaphorical form of contact the present was too onerous to allow any intrusion by the past and the work of being kind against the urge to hurt which comes as vulnerability's unwelcome companion left no energy for confession this is so spot on I was speechless when I read itI find myself wondering if my mother felt as I do the overwhelming fear of fucking up that having children brings the awareness of the impossibility of not causing hurt like falling into endless water and with it the attendant agonising understanding that what success looks like is being left behind but what is the alternative? Only the unthinkable perfection of a preserved present Our lives are possibility reduced to rough particularity by contact touch and out of it the specificity of each of us comes so that to ask if we might have been better otherwise is to wish ourselves undoneI felt the power of it and do still how simple things would be if only I could know myself or to others I received an eARC from Random House through Edelweiss This book came out 21 August 2018


  10. says:

    Sight is an ambitious and introspective novel in which our unnamed narrator recounts her experience with new motherhood while at the same time coming to terms with the death of her own mother and grandmother To say that I have conflicting feelings about this novel would be an understatement; it's like every singular element of this novel draws two completely contradictory reactions from me I both admire it and find it insufferable at the exact same timeLet's start with the prose which is what everyone is going to be talking about when they talk about Sight and rightfully so It feels like Jessie Greengrass's sentences go on for days each one carefully crafted to show very evident technical skill Some of these sentences are striking with poignant meaningful commentary on the human condition I want only what I think we all must want to come off as better than I ought generous sure kinder than I know myself to be; but I want also to be known to be counted and to be excused I can't have both Some not so much All morning caught up in the business of appointments I had forgotten to feel sick but now it returned the constant ueasy ostinato over which rose exhaustion's disharmonious cadence a progression paused before the point of resolution aching forwards I mean 'I had morning sickness' would have sufficed but okayAfter a while of immersing yourself in this prose what first feels lush and fresh begins to feel methodical and calculated even the variances of syntax have a very distinct rhythm to them At times I would get lulled into it and at others it would feel like it was written by a particularly verbose robot The interesting thing about Sight is that while it endeavors to reflect on the human condition it does so in such a measured way it's almost as if it's devoid of all humanity This is a book and a character that wants to be able to reduce the human experience to a series of elements which can be scientifically categorized made evident by the heavy integration of medical history into the narrativeThat brings me to my next point which is that Sight is very light on the narrative This entire book is driven by the narrator's fixation on her relationship with her mother on whether or not she wants to have a child on her ownership of her own body and while I'd take character driven novels over plot driven novels any day I hesitate to even call this character driven because by the end of it we still know hardly anything about this person For all the navel gazing in this novel we don't even know where this character works Does she even have a job? No this isn't the point but it also makes it harder to fully immerse yourself in this character's worldThere's another line but the price of sight is wonder's diminishment which I think not only sums up this character's introspective journey but also for me sort of characterizes the book as a whole This is a book which dives into themes which I ordinarily find interesting how well can we truly know other people how well can we know ourselves and examines them so thoroughly it leaves almost no room for the reader to actively engage I feel like this is one of those novels which attempts to ask uestions of its readers without being particularly interested in their answers because you can find all of the answers in its pages I mean maybe that's not even a bad thing It just doesn't get me particularly excitedI admire the technical skill that went into this novel but it ultimately didn't leave as strong of an impression on me as I had hoped it would But there's a lot of thoughtful commentary in these pages and it's worth a read if you like your books heavy on the philosophy Thank you to Netgalley Hogarth Press and Jessie Greengrass for the advanced copy provided in exchange for an honest review


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