Emily Maloney understands the country's medical crisis intimately. She's worked as an emergency room technician, but also has extensive experience as a patient ... A fascinating new essay collection that considers what it means to give, and receive, care. It's a book that couldn't be more timely ..She writes about...medications in 'A Brief Inventory of My Drugs and Their Retail Price' ... The effect of the list is almost hypnotic; it's a stunning essay that puts into sharp relief the cost of trying to feel better in a country dedicated to capitalism ... There's not an essay in Cost of Living that's less than gripping, due in large part to Maloney's exceptional prose ...Maloney is a careful writer; although her book makes clear what it's like to be both a patient and a caregiver in a medical system that's broken, she never turns didactic. She lets the readers fill in the blanks, asking them to put themselves in the shoes of those whose lives have been upended by illness. This isn't just a thoughtful, compassionate book; it's also an essential one.
Embedding herself into various corners of the bureaucratic medical machine, Maloney describes everyone she encounters with the same perspicacity ... Thanks to her experiences, Maloney is able to see the cracks in what a less informed patient might experience, simply, as care ... Maloney’s essays read as if they were begun in low light, with little sense of where they were going or how far. They start with a question and work things out on the page. They don’t seem concerned about arriving at a grand unified theory of anything. They notice everything and have nothing to prove. They don’t prematurely grasp at an ending. These qualities combine to elevate this collection far above the usual first-person essayistic fare. The challenges of Maloney’s background — familial trauma, poor medical care, occasional indigence — form part of the back story, but they are ultimately beside the point of this book. Her broad authority and the quality of the prose — astute, compassionate and lethally funny — are what make these essays remarkable. Maloney is an exceptionally alert writer on whom nothing is lost, who sees everything with excruciating clarity, including the unassailable fact that in this country, there is currently no tidy passage through the interconnected quagmires of illness, money and care.
Somehow, she never seems to lapse into bleak cynicism. Even when Maloney is caustic, even when she observes and describes with a gonzo spirit, she remains sympathetic to the people caught up in the system ... Maloney has an uncanny ability to recall and elucidate moments that couldn’t have been very clear at the time ... Maloney is able to slow things down, to capture them in her mind, and then on paper ... Maloney’s book isn’t a history so much as an inside view of the medical-financial complex ... Cost of Living is never less than bracingly real, whether Maloney’s subject is herself or the medical field she knows as both patient and professional. The book is sure to haunt your imagination the next time you enter the labyrinthine health care system and face the expenses, financial and otherwise.
'Cost of Living' — an indictment of the exorbitant costs of staying alive in America, and the weight of being hounded by a debt that reduces your life to dollars and cents — opens Maloney's debut essay collection of the same name. It's a powerful opening shot, but in the essays that follow, which recount Maloney's experiences as patient, caregiver, observer, and pharmaceutical industry worker, she stumbles before regaining the clarity of purpose and rigor of probing that 'Cost of Living' promises ...The six [essays] that follow the titular piece feel as though they are narrated from underwater ...Among the murkiest essays is 'Clipped' ... Something is wrong here, but that something is never clearly identified; I found myself waiting for retrospection that never came ... It is clear that both the therapy and the drugs weren't the treatment that Maloney actually needed, but unclear where she places the blame ... That Maloney does not even engage in any kind of questioning in these pieces is what makes them lack tension, fall flat. Later essays, where she takes up the same sort of thinking on the page that gives 'Cost of Living' its verve, are far more compelling ... Zoom out and sustained inquiry is what I longed for in earlier pieces ... At its best, Cost of Living offers insight into the subculture of medicine and incites the reader to think more deeply about what our health care system is costing us all.
This is the power of Maloney’s debut, as she highlights not only how internal suffering can become external trauma, but also how capitalism monetizes both, and places a price tag on our very lives ... Maloney writes about her own mental health treatment throughout her life with a careful remove, stripping away many elements of feeling and emotion to instead focus on the physical. It’s an effective move, as some of the most gripping and wrenching descriptions are those that show readers how the various medications she took steal her sleep, the enamel of her teeth, and more ... Readers may find that they want to see a bit more of Maloney in some of the later essays that begin to blend reportage with personal narrative, but her sharp insights and dry wit toward the absurd system she finds herself in surely makes up for it ... Maloney creates a remarkably holistic and nuanced portrayal of what it means to pursue help in a system that seeks to make us indebted and dependent ... It’s easy to imagine that in the hands of another writer, Cost of Living would focus only on the author’s health journey or their experience as an emergency room technician, but Maloney manages to show us much more ... Cost of Living is an early entry on my list of most memorable reads in 2022, and it’s sure to be a collection readers will want to hold onto, return to, and dwell on for years to come.
Maloney’s debut collection of essays is an intimate view of the United States health care system from her perspective as both a patient and a caregiver. She narrates her personal experiences as a patient in the U.S. mental health system, clearly depicting an aspect of health care that doesn’t currently help people in need ... Maloney’s behind-the-scenes look at health care and how the system works is in equal parts heart-wrenching, humorous, and infuriating; an important work for readers who have experienced health care in the United States or who seek to understand the industry ... Maloney’s nontraditional health care memoir serves as a warning for those who’ve never had to stay in the hospital stay, and sends the message that there is work to be done.
Emily Maloney relays the reality of so many ... Full disclosure: I am a doctor. I find Maloney’s reflections on the system to be remarkably accurate ... Maloney accurately observes and precisely reflects on the difficulties of the medical system ... Whether discussing the medical system or describing her status as a patient, Maloney writes readable, fascinating essays that keep the reader engaged and turning the pages. This memoir reads like a novel, with relatable characters and a fast-paced plot, but carries the reflections of a true observer of human nature and our problematic medical system. This is the must-read book of the year.
Maloney artfully unpacks the fraught connection between money and health in her brilliant debut collection ... With subtle wit and moving vulnerability, she explores how survival is dependent on capital, offering a unique perspective on the American health-care system ... Maloney is masterful at beginning in a place of skepticism and ending with empathy, all while weaving in her own fascinating story. Readers will be eager to see where she goes next.
Candid ... Maloney comes at these injustices not with fury but with a flatness that almost seems determined to avoid feeling at all. This can be effective when Maloney lets the facts do the work ... At times, the linguistic flatness reads as disengagement; it’s unclear, for instance, what her accounting of the costs of various medications in one essay is meant to say ... Nonetheless, Maloney’s self-awareness is mostly engaging, and her resistance to big emotional gestures is understandable ... Sharp personal essays light on lyricism but potently suffused with disillusionment.