I was interested in reading Siri Hustvedt's neurological memoir "The Shaking Woman" for a number of reasons: She's a writer I greatly admire (I loved The Sorrows of an American and What I Loved) and her writing is always informed by a solid academic underpinning. Philosophy, psychology and neurology feature prominently in her writing and these are subjects I myself invested six years in.
But, mostly, Hustvedt is extremely open about her personal psychology too. In my own way, I've tried to always share what's on my mind here too. And I know how challenging it can be to write those things. But I also know how rewarding it is to discipline yourself to wrap words and theories around abstract thoughts and feelings.
So Hustvedt's endeavour intrigued me and I thought I might relate to a lot of what she wrote and learn from her research. This is not a book that pops up psychology or neurology. It's not a self-help book. Nor is it a subjective or romantic self-analysis, though Hustvedt's investigation is shaped around personal experiences which she is trying to understand.
I felt like I was doing philosophy again and frequent references George Berkeley and William James and Wittgenstein made me feel at home. The book is a clean investigation, so clean the NYT thought it "chilly". I do not. Hustvedt's candor allows us to bear intimate witness to her journey and to study alongside her, a study which is hugely informative and also spirited.