Read Empathy by Sarah Schulman Kevin Killian Online


Provocative, observant, and daring, this 1992 novel by one of America’s preeminent lesbian writers and thinkers is being reissued for the Little Sister’s Classics series. Anna O. is a loner in New York, an office temp obsessed with a mysterious woman in white leather; Doc is a post-Freudian psychiatrist who hands out business cards to likely neurotics on street corners, anProvocative, observant, and daring, this 1992 novel by one of America’s preeminent lesbian writers and thinkers is being reissued for the Little Sister’s Classics series. Anna O. is a loner in New York, an office temp obsessed with a mysterious woman in white leather; Doc is a post-Freudian psychiatrist who hands out business cards to likely neurotics on street corners, and is himself looking for personal fulfillment. They befriend each other in the netherworld of the Lower East Side, two unlikely people drawn together by their confusion about and empathy for the world around them, and each other. This beautifully written novel is about the fluidity of desire, and how those of us damaged by love can still be transformed by it. Features a new essay by the author and an introduction by Kevin Killian....

Title : Empathy
Author :
Rating :
ISBN : 9781551522012
Format Type : Paperback
Number of Pages : 225 Pages
Status : Available For Download
Last checked : 21 Minutes ago!

Empathy Reviews

  • Robert Beveridge
    2019-01-20 07:08

    Sara Schulman, Empathy (Dutton, 1992)Until roughly twenty minutes before writing this review, I was getting ready to say Empathy was going to be a definite for my best twenty-five reads of 2003 list. Then I read the last three chapters.The first twenty-seven are brilliant. The story's two main characters are Anna O., a lesbian attempting to get over an old relationship and find someone new, and Doc, a post-Freudian therapist who finds prospective clients by handing out business cards on the street and will never keep a client for more than three sessions. Eventually, their two stories intertwine as Anna, finding one of Doc's business cards, makes an appointment with him. The two of them then proceed to take on relationships of all sorts, Jewish funerals, AIDS, the homeless, and a rainbow of other topics with a wicked wit. Doc obsesses over an old girlfriend as well, and feels an almost supernatural connection with Anna. When one of the main questions in a book is "will Doc end up having a fourth session with Anna?", it's impossible to write a review in a way that makes it sound as important as it actually is, but Anna, Doc, and the supporting cast of characters (Anna's family, Doc's patients and mentor, Anna's old girlfriend's mother, Doc's old girlfriend) are so well-drawn and engaging that it's well-night impossible not to be drawn in to the point where you sit up at night thinking about such things.Then Schulman hits you with the kicker, the novel's climax, and though it's nothing we haven't seen before (telling you where would be the ultimate plot spoiler, however), it's a sucker punch delivered with such aplomb that it demands a "thank you, ma'am, may I have another." I had figured I knew where the book was going, had it mapped out in my head (and it was a brilliant ending, too), then Schulman flipped all my expectations on their heads and delivered what may have been the only climax that was actually better than what I thought it would be.Then we get to Chapter Twenty-Seven, and everything goes to hell in a handbasket. We spend two chapters involved in political polemic that has absolutely nothing to do with the rest of the novel, and while they are two brief chapters, their very existence in the book poisons the whole thing. Schulman attempts to wrap things up in the last chapter by going back to the original topic of life-after-Doc Anna, but by then it's too late. The rhythm, the style, the all-around beauty of the book has been dashed against a curb on a dark, rainy street.My advice? By all means, read this novel. Up to chapter twenty-six. Then skip ahead to chapter thirty. You will still find an ending that is an anticlimax, to say the least, but you will at least be spared pointless political diatribe along the way. ** ½

  • Caleb
    2019-01-19 11:54

    I'm not really sure what to say about this book... I'm not entirely sure I understand what happened. Empathy certainly has that chaotic, surrealist, psychoanalytic-meltdown style that seems to come from post-modern new york-based literature. I think Arthur Nersesian took notes from Schulman's rapid character deterioration/confusion. I'm not sad I read it, but I feel like there's a lot going on in this story and it's hard to keep all of the strands in mind at once. It could use a book club discussion to make sense of it. But there were certainly moments of poetic flair, and sentences I re-read a few times to try and keep for later. Not bad for my first Schulman book, I suppose.

  • Gloss
    2019-02-15 10:06

    The most extraordinary and accomplished (to date) of Schulman's amazing body of work. This turns Freud's Dora on its ear, inside out, and dresses her in drag, and it's just so sad and powerful, all the way through.

  • Travis
    2019-01-22 09:44

    It's hard to summarise this book without spoiling it. It's about Anna and Doc and psychology and...stuff. Really, I have no idea how to summarise, so that will have to do. It's about a woman coming to terms with being a lesbian and what that means to her. (But not in a "coming out" sort of way.)[return][return]Anyway! This is very experimental, with some scenes written in script format, and it took me a little longer to get into than After Delores did, but it did hook me and I ended up really enjoying it.[return][return]I still have three more of Schulman's books here to read and I'm very excited about them.

  • Morgan
    2019-01-20 13:09

    I had to read this for my LGQ lit class. It was an interesting read. You do need to know a bit about Freud and his case studies to get more out of this story than just the average stumble-upon reader. I could see the big plot twist coming but a lot of people [in my class] didn't until we were discussing things and I mentioned it. They all latched on to that idea henceforth and it ended up being the case. It wasn't much of a surprise for me, but it was still interesting. It's an okay read, again--more relevant if someone knows a bit about psychology or had read up on Freud and the cases referenced in this book [Anna O. and Dora].

  • Max
    2019-02-17 08:03

    A friend told me this was her favorite book, and the whole time I was reading it I kept thinking "really?!". Honestly, trying to figure out why my friend liked it was the only reason I saw this book through to the end. Well, and the fact that it was so short made this easier. Something about the arty style of the writing felt forced and hard to follow. Dreadful. I haven't read more by this author, and maybe if I am truly desperate for something to read I will give another of her books a try.

  • Harper
    2019-01-22 06:53

    I'm still trying to figure out what I think of this. I think there are some undertones that, if intended as some sort of universal narrative (which may or may not be the case) about womanhood/lesbianism, it could be read as anti-trans. i'm just not sure. Nevertheless, the book is funny, and it does have its moments of clarity and insight.

  • Abilouise
    2019-02-03 08:48

    Having read this book through once, I immediately need to restart reading it again from the beginning. Thanks for blowing my mind, Sarah Schulman! Also, non-shitty lesbian novels: there are not enough of you.

  • Caty
    2019-02-01 04:42

    Stay tuned for a piece about growing up as the last generation relying on retrogressive Freudianism, library homosexuality, and brief mentions of "Lesbianism"--with the capital L--and how it helped me IDENTIFY with Empathy (in Emily Books)

  • Bronwen
    2019-01-22 12:06

    Anna O. is a lesbian living in East Village in 1991 who is ready to give up on love. Doc is an lay therapist who hands out his card on street corners, charges $10 an hour, and allows only 3 sessions.They talk about listening.

  • Ryan Mishap
    2019-02-14 07:47

    Often witty, but the over-all writing isn't that great.

  • Christine
    2019-01-29 05:57

    "Freud is just an idea. It can work for you or against you." In some ways Empathy is a departure from Schulman's previous 4 novels, but it might be more accurate to say that it's an intellectual/Freudian distillation of her usual themes or that the intellectual/psychoanalytic is brought to the forefront instead of the subtext. In any event, this book is far less "plotty" than her previous work. Instead it uses Freudian dream-analysis, metaphor, and probably a lot of other Freudian concepts that I don't know the words for to explore ideas such as: self, homosexuality and homophobia, morality, listening, conflict, war, love, rejection, AIDS, Jewish funerals, pop culture, femininity, and misogyny. I would not choose this as the FIRST Schulman book I read; if you're already familiar the themes she works with, the dream-like non-linear style will be easier to deal with.

  • Véronique
    2019-01-20 05:55

    I liked the script chapters and i appreciated the originality (in its style & form) of this novel, but overall i felt a bit like it was trying to show me it was smarter than me. I also did not like Anna confronting her family relentlessly about her homosexuality; those bits felt heavy-handed to me, and maybe a bit "dated".

  • Oriana
    2019-01-22 10:43

    Another amazing-sounding book rec'd by the awesome Emily Books. Anna O. is a thirtyish New Yorker living in the squalid East Village of 1990. Dead friends and junkies on the sidewalk are a fact of life, and worsening political unrest is threatening to destroy the world as she knows it. Plus, she's always falling for the wrong women. She needs help, and she finds it -- or does she? -- in the person of Doc, a street-corner therapist who charges $10 and only sees each of his patients three times because "I get what I need out of it by the third session and you can too." Doc diagnoses Anna with empathy, but it seems like her problems might be more complicated. Such as: does she exist? Does Doc? Do you?

  • Siolehca
    2019-01-27 08:55

    “I’m not trying to pass, except to myself. I mean, how many times can a person be told in a multitude of ways that she will never be fully human because she is not a man? The logical conclusion is to become a man to herself, simply to retain the most basic self-respect.”“What are you going to do now, Anna, cry in my ear? Crying is a manipulation. Saying how you feel is a manipulation because it gives information with the hopes of impacting my behavior. Get it? Get it?”Two (unrelated) feelings that have dominated my adult life and I never expected to see articulated in fiction.

  • Liza
    2019-02-03 11:56

    Kind of exhausting, like being around a really difficult person, but I actually think Schulman would take that as a compliment? You really get a sense of someone so stuck inside her own head and basically pulling you in there with her. I know some people didn't like that war breakdown towards the end, but it was one of my favorite parts. I loved, too, how this felt so specifically time and place, like so, so, lower east side 1990.

  • elissa
    2019-01-18 12:46

    recommended to me. a little dramatic as the characters seem to do the opposite of what i try to do in my own life: avoid turmoil. a Jewish lesbian who has identity issues and finds herself in a world of, well, herself, trying to identify why she always hangs herself up on, well, herself. a "twist" ending that is the most interesting part of the book which only lasts three pages. i hear this author has better stuff.

  • Vicky
    2019-01-18 08:04

    I feel bad that my focus went elsewhere for the last third or fourth of this book because the prose was very engaging and reminded me of E.L. Doctorow's Ragtime which is one of my favorites. I need to reread this sometime because there's this turning point, realization, that made me go, whoaaa, and wish that I had been more attentive all along. My problem, Doc would say, is that I don't listen :(

  • Annie
    2019-02-15 04:45

    really so prescient and certain bits felt especially weird to read during this week of all weeks. Poignant without being cloying. I really didn't expect to love it as much as I did, to be honest. Makes me excited to read more of her work.

  • John La
    2019-01-25 04:48

    One of my all time favorite books. I've re-read it multiple times and still find new things in it. Funny and insightful. I laughed out loud repeatedly. this book may not seem funny for those who lack empathy, or who are really young. If not, try again in 10 years.

  • Janna
    2019-02-15 11:49

    This was a very good book. It talked about some pressing matters with humour in them. The last five chapters however made me give the book only four stars, it just got too weird even for me, but then again, this was written in 1992, I wasn't even then :)

  • Corinne Blackmer
    2019-01-26 06:08


  • Nicole
    2019-02-02 08:56

    I just couldn't get into it, although I really wanted to. Bummer.

  • Eileen
    2019-02-11 08:02

    I've tried to read this twice but each time just couldn't get into it, which is disappointing because her prose is quite good. I think I just felt the story wasn't going anywhere.

  • J Chritsian
    2019-01-25 09:03

    Shame on me for not taking hold of experimental gay novelist adventures until 2015, learn from my mistake and get on the Sarah Schulman train.

  • Bryn
    2019-02-01 13:02

    This book is so good so far. I get excited every time I pick it up.

  • kot
    2019-02-14 08:44

    this was kind of weird.

  • Ezra
    2019-01-30 13:02

    I love the writing in this book about the specific homophobia of liberal Jewish families. this book gets complicated and weird (experimental) at the end and I was very annoyed by where it went.