Love and Fatigue in America (Hardcover)

By Roger King

University of Wisconsin Press, 9780299287207, 273pp.

Publication Date: March 26, 2012

Other Editions of This Title:
Paperback (2/20/2014)

List Price: 26.95*
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"Love and Fatigue in America" records an Englishman's decade-long journey through his newly adopted country in the company of a mystifying illness and a charismatic dog.
When he receives an unexpected invitation from an unfamiliar American university, he embraces it as a triumphant new beginning. Instead, on arrival, he is stricken with a persistent inability to stand up or think straight, and things quickly go wrong. Diagnosed with ME disease chronic fatigue syndrome he moves restlessly from state to state, woman to woman, and eccentric doctor to eccentric doctor, in a search for a love and a life suited to his new condition. The journey is simultaneously brave, absurd, and instructive.
Finding himself prostrate on beds and couches from Los Alamos to Albany, he hears the intimate stories offered by those he encounters their histories, hurts, and hopes and from these fragments an unsentimental map emerges of the inner life of a nation. Disability has shifted his interest in America from measuring its opportunities to taking the measure of its humanity. Forced to consider for himself the meaning of a healthy life and how best to nurture it, he incidentally delivers a report on the health of a country.
By turns insightful, comic, affecting, and profound, Roger King's "Love and Fatigue in America" briskly compresses an illness, a nation, and an era through masterly blending of literary forms. In a work that defies categorization, and never loses its pace or poise, the debilitated narrator is, ironically, the most lively and fully awake figure in the book.
Remarkable. . . . S]mart and funny. . . . A]musing observations about everything American. . . . T]his is not a traditional novel. . . . T]his, as it turns out, is a brilliant perspective from which to view and write about life. . . . G]reat reckonings unfurl in mere paragraphs. "Jackson"
As the disease drives the narrator city to city, woman to woman, and doctor to doctor, it brings into relief many of America's follies and excesses, most notably our health-care system, which King portrayed as antiquated, bureaucratic, and inhumane. After more than fifteen years, America brings the narrator not aspiration realized, nor a largeness of life fitting to its open spaces, but the nascent ability to be satisfied with less. "The New Yorker.

About the Author

Roger King grew up in London. He is author of four previous novels: "Horizontal Hotel," "Written on a Stranger s Map," "Sea Level," and "A Girl from Zanzibar." He has worked extensively in Africa and Asia and has held university posts in both international development and creative writing. Since 1991 he has suffered from ME disease, also known as chronic fatigue syndrome. He lives in Leverett, Massachusetts."

Praise For Love and Fatigue in America

“Roger King’s disturbing, delightful odyssey encompasses many subjects—love, loss, health, illness, disconnection, and most of all the modern American psyche: its roots and its rootlessness. A profound and wonderfully original book.”—Joan Wickersham, author of The Suicide Index

“Few writers dare to try the scope of Roger King, from the intensely personal to the universal, and even fewer succeed. But King does. Love and Fatigue in America manages to offer three rewarding narratives at once in a book that is equally novel and memoir. He has done something astonishing.”—Helen Benedict, author of Sand Queen

“What does it mean to live in between? Not only between geographical locations, but between health and illness, commitment and freedom, love and loss? In this wry and subtle autobiographical novel, Roger King maps the territory of his inner life onto the American continent. The genre-crossing result is, like the work of W.G. Sebald, surprising and dazzling.”—Andrea Barrett, author of The Air We Breathe and winner of the National Book Award

“This is a terrific book. It defies categorization. It reminds me, in its fierce but mysterious organization, of the best works that reach far and wide in subject matter, and far and wide in mode. I think of Sebald’s moody books here, and Didion’s White Album.”—Brian D. Bouldrey, author of Honorable Bandit: A Walk Across Corsica

Love and Fatigue in America is a beautifully written, brave, and at times almost brutally honest story of the author’s struggle with chronic fatigue syndrome. The writing is both spare and poetically evocative. It is a polished and moving work of literature.”—Jennifer Moses, author of Bagels and Grits: A Jew on the Bayou