The Post-Wounded Woman

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Leslie Jamison‘s The Empathy Exams coins the phrase “Post-Wounded Woman,” referring to women who “are wary of melodrama so they stay numb or clever instead. Post-wounded women make jokes about being wounded or get impatient with women who hurt too much.” Catherine Lacey‘s debut novel Nobody Is Ever Missing embodies this ideal, writes Daphne Merkin at the New Yorker.

In this sense, the novel is very contemporary, I suppose, but it is also classical in its delineation of the youthful impulse to define oneself; among other things, I was thrilled to read a book in which the main character doesn’t own a cell phone and no one writes emails. Mostly, though, I was excited by its sustained attunement to the disjunctive universe its protagonist inhabits, and the way the writer nimbly hop-skips around, cutting squibs of arresting dialogue into the meditative sections and gimlet-eyed details (“The front desk sent flowers and a balloon and a stuffed bear—the string noosed around his neck”).


Ian MacAllen's fiction has appeared in 45th Parallel Magazine, Little Fiction, Vol 1. Brooklyn, Joyland Magazine, and elsewhere and nonfiction has appeared in Chicago Review of Books, The Negatives, Electric Literature, Fiction Advocate, and elsewhere. He is the Deputy Editor of The Rumpus, holds an MA in English from Rutgers University, tweets @IanMacAllen and is online at IanMacAllen.com. More from this author →