There was a brief period last year where my sister toyed with the idea of not vaccinating my niece (ultimately, she did). New mothers grapple with the same fear, it seems: one of contamination—of failing in salubrity and, therefore, motherhood. New mother Eula Biss shared these fears and chose to investigate: In turns tender and tough, Biss dispels the myths of the anti-vaxx movement and reveals how they erode not just our trust in medicine, but our trust in each other. Fear is infectious, but so is knowledge. Take a deep breath. This’ll only hurt for a second.
Picked by Austin in Prospect Lefferts Gardens
October 2014 Indie Next List
“Biss' essays about the immunization debate range from the personal to the body politic and back again. Drawing on her experiences as a mother and employing an astonishing diversity of sources, Biss plumbs our ancient fear of infection. Acknowledging the permeability of both our borders and bodies, she arrives at the conclusion that 'immunity is a shared space-a garden we tend together.' Biss' precise language and wry humor make On Immunity as engaging as it is informative.”
— Brooke Alexander, Brazos Bookstore, Houston, TX
Upon becoming a new mother, Eula Biss addresses a chronic condition of fear—fear of the government, the medical establishment, and what is in your child’s air, food, mattress, medicine, and vaccines. She finds that you cannot immunize your child, or yourself, from the world.
In this bold, fascinating book, Biss investigates the metaphors and myths surrounding our conception of immunity and its implications for the individual and the social body. As she hears more and more fears about vaccines, Biss researches what they mean for her own child, her immediate community, America, and the world, both historically and in the present moment. She extends a conversation with other mothers to meditations on Voltaire’s Candide, Bram Stoker’s Dracula, Rachel Carson’s Silent Spring, Susan Sontag’s AIDS and Its Metaphors, and beyond. On Immunity is a moving account of how we are all interconnected—our bodies and our fates.
About the Author
EULA BISS is the author of Notes from No Man’s Land, winner of the National Book Critics Circle Award for criticism, and The Balloonists. Her essays have appeared in the Believer and Harper’s Magazine. She teaches at Northwestern University and lives in Chicago, Illinois.