In these fifteen searingly honest personal essays, debut author Susan Olding takes us on an unforgettable journey into the complex heart of being human. Each essay dissects an aspect of Olding’s life experience—from her vexed relationship with her father to her tricky dealings with her female peers; from her work as a counsellor and teacher to her persistent desire, despite struggles with infertility, to have children of her own. In a suite of essays forming the emotional climax of the book, Olding bravely recounts the adoption of her daughter, Maia, from an orphanage in China, and tells us the story of Maia’s difficult adaptation to the unfamiliar state of being loved.
Written with as much lyricism, detail, and artfulness as the best short stories, the essays in Pathologies provide all the pleasures of fiction combined with the enrichment derived from the careful presentation of fact. Susan Olding is indisputably one of Canada’s finest new writers, one who has taken the challenging, much-underused form of the literary essay and made it her own.