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A Book about Freedom

by Olivia Laing

Everybody by Olivia Laing X
Everybody by Olivia Laing
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  • Shirley T. (Comfort, TX)
    Everybody by Olivia Laing
    This is a very unusual book, well written and researched with information and ideas from the early twentieth century onward regarding the connection between freedom, the lack thereof, and the effect on the body and mind.

    The author, Olivia Laing, writes about symptoms which could be caused by the lack of choice or freedom of choice for sexual activity, or the result of incarceration and other activities. In the civilized world total freedom is not possible because a body does not exist alone.

    The explicit accounts of the suffering of "unfree" people make this a powerful but disturbing book.
  • Carole A. (Denver, CO)
    EVERYBODY probably not for everyone
    If you are looking for a quick light read EVERYBODY is not for you.  I read it through once and then went back and skimmed it a second time to sort out the layers.  There are some that will be omitted here due to space. The subject matter is interesting with multiple layers. It is because of the multiple layers I believe this would be an excellent book for a serious book club. At the very least a book to keep on your side table and to read and digest a bit at a time.
    Laing based many of the thoughts she expresses on the work of William Reich, a disciple of Freud. Reichs' major concept was that the body houses both pleasure and pain and as such both can be a powerful force for change.  There are many examples of this theory in Laing's life as well as in the lives of many others ranging from the Marquis de Sade, Simone, Isherwood, Sontag and Malcom X.  She explores the impact of this theory on many issues of the 2nd half of the 20th century such as feminism, civil rights and the freedom to be openly gay. Laing goes even further in taking on the subjects of the exploding racism and misogynistic attitudes of today.  
    Yet another layer explores the ways in which the body can heal itself through her own stories and through leaders in the field such as Louise Hay. Laing stresses you can remake your body, your world and the wide world beyond as all is ever changing and nothing is static.  The book can be, indeed, a reminder of the freedom we have within ourselves and the world around us.
  • Connie L. (Bartlesville, OK)
    The Body and its Discontents
    I've read and enjoyed several of Olivia Laing's books in the past, but this one did not hold my interest. I found it to be dry and repetitious.

    Laing is an excellent writer who obviously conducted a great deal of research about the body, studied it extensively, and examined and explained it quite thoroughly and clearly in this book. However, I did not find the subject interesting, and so I found reading this book to be a chore. Others may very well have a much more positive response, but this is a book that turned out not to be for me.
  • Jean B. (Naples, FL)
    What is this book? What does it have to do with it's title? It is thoroughly researched, full of very large words requiring the use of a dictionary, and is described as ambitious and brilliant. I could not understand why the author wrote this book or what she was trying to say.

    Why is it important to "struggle for bodily freedom?" Are we inhabitants of this world to only please ourselves? Much of the book is centered on Wilhelm Reich who imagined a "society organized around the orgasm"!?

    Winston Churchill wrote "What is the use of living if it be not to strive for noble causes and to make this muddled world a better place for those who live in it after we are gone?"

    I struggled with this book, wishing for the admiration and understanding to arrive. That moment did not come for me and I continue to wish that the author had used her impressive vocabulary for a better purpose.
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