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.