Lia Purpura’s “Autopsy Report” was a visceral and detailed recounting of her first experience watching a human body dissected. The first page. Autopsy Report Summary of the story; The start and the end; Lia’s amazing sense of using poems and strong words to the story Lia Purpura. Here, for example, is Lia Purpura in a too-bright room, in an essay entitled ” Autopsy Report”: I shall begin . →”Autopsy Report” by Lia Purpura.

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The world had been summoned by seers and prophets. One quarter of a century later, the ravishing seductions of the essayistic “I” continue to snare the wily, ingenious, sensual and playful. I truncate the list; the point is: But what does it matter prupura any of them reprt about the spires of Warsaw or Panera Bread, the Aragon or mentorship, the color blue, a strand purphra pearls, a summer in Samarkand? Why should we care about their digressive curiosities? Because there, right there, in their meander and jig, lie the implosive possibilities of our worlds and ourselves.

It’s in the accordion folds of the empathetic imagination. If, as Terrence Des Pres once wrote: Looking at, then through, toward a transporting beyond. Here, for example, is Lia Purpura in a too-bright room, in an essay entitled “Autopsy Report”:.

I shall begin with the chests of drowned men, bound with ropes and diesel-slicked. Asleep below deck autopsu a freighter hit and the river rose inside their tug. Their lashes white with river silt. The diesel, the sludge, the mud: The men asleep, the river rising: This is her transcending beyond the facts, the view that only her imagination can yield. In opening her eyes, Purpura has opened her heart.

Essay Weekly: ENGL Perry Kantor on Lia Purpura’s “Autopsy Report”

She has tilted the scene toward the beginning of its end. In introducing the “scrappy incondite essays” of his new collection, “Loitering,” Charles D’Ambrosio tells us that “behind each piece, animating every attempt, is the echo of a precarious faith, that we are more intimately bound to one another by our kindred doubts than our brave conclusions. His language slides and slides down alternative trajectories.

In the essay “This Is Living,” for example, D’Ambrosio reconstructs a father few sons could readily understand or forgive — a father whose own violent childhood did not preclude him from wielding a shocking violence of his own.

D’Ambrosio’s autopdy once witnessed the beating of an uncle and ran. D’Ambrosio, the author, is now in perpetual pursuit:. Now whenever I visit Chicago I make the same run myself, chasing after my father, pursuing him all the way down Argyle, crossing the Outer Drive until I too hit the lake.

My father doesn’t know I do this, and he probably wouldn’t care or even understand, and really, I have no idea why this lunatic errand matters to me, beyond the foolish belief that, one of these days, when I reach autkpsy lake’s edge, I will find him, I mean literally find him, still there, an eleven year old boy, cold and alone, with nowhere else to run.


D’Ambrosio’s empathetic imagination is an appeasing imagination. While D’Ambrosio chases a past that will never fully be summoned, Megan Stielstra, in an essay called “Wake the Goddamn World,” chases a better self. She is in Prague when we meet her. She has wakened to a fight in a street. There are plenty of reasons to do nothing, and nothing is what Stielstra does.

Finding empathy in the essay

But reportt Stielstra leaves that apartment for the final purpua, when she finds the victim in the lobby, Stielstra “in her memory” apologizes — “digging through our shared patchwork language to find the right words: I should have done better. I will do better. I tell her how, this time, I will rush down the four flights of stairs and put my body between them. This time, I purrpura rush down the four flights of stairs — not in time to stop it, but still in time to help, to get her to a hospital, or a friend’s, or a shelter.

This time lix I’ll wake the goddamn world. Stielstra’s essay — and her imagination — leave her fictively ennobled. The distance between the facts and her yearning to change those facts is where her redemption lies. For Eula Biss in “The Balloonists,” a book about family and fractures and the mother who left, the empathetic imagination emerges from an exploration of insufficient evidence. I think I remember the sound of my mother typing in the basement.

But this is only because I know there was a typewriter down there. I don’t know how much she used it. She was almost always home, repotr if she wasn’t typing and she wasn’t in the garden and she wasn’t putting bread in the oven, what was she doing?

An American Lyric,” a jagged evocation of life in our seething, unjust world, Claudia Rankine works by way of implication, replacing, in the first long sweep of her pages, the I with a You until the reader is not purpuraa sure of who the reader is — the injured or the injuring.

Unsettled, uprooted, we, the readers, become the agents of empathy, entrusted with the responsibility of seeing, feeling, knowing:. You are twelve attending Sts. Philip and James School on White Plains Road and the girl sitting in autops seat behind asks you to lean to the right during exams so she can copy what you have written. Sister Evelyn is in the habit of taping the s rfport the failing grades to the coat closet doors.

The girl is Catholic with waist-length brown hair.

Autopsy Report by Modar Ghazzawi on Prezi

You can’t remember her name: You never really speak except for the time she makes her request and later when she tells you you smell good and have features more like a white person. You assume she thinks she is thanking you for letting her cheat and feels better cheating from an almost white person. In “The Empathy Exams,” the title essay in Leslie Jamison’s collection, Jamison is a “medical actor,” a young woman who performs acts of unwellness in order to further the education of aspiring doctors.


Jamison is also a young woman who has recently undergone both an abortion and heart surgery. Jamison isn’t just circling the literal and literary possibilities of empathy here.

Lia Purpura’s “Autopsy Report”

She is overtly addressing the condition, suggesting that it operates as a cascade. Her empathic imagination is a historian, a chronicler. It is a spiral without an end. Empathy requires inquiry as much as imagination.

Empathy requires knowing you know nothing. Empathy means acknowledging a horizon of context that extends perpetually beyond what you can see: All this is connected to her domestically stifled mother, in turn, and to her parents’ unbroken marriage; maybe everything traces its roots to her very first period, how it shamed and thrilled aytopsy. Finally, in perhaps the most perfect personal essay ever written, “Cousins,” Purlura Ann Beard suggests that the empathetic imagination does its best work under the cover of stopped time.

This is an essay, despite its title, that is mostly about two purpua, one of whom is the author’s mother. In discontinuous, highly evocative scenes, Beard gives us the family history. Early on, during a happily remembered parade, she tosses the “silver hyphen” of a baton to the sky and lets it linger “for a moment against the sun.

My mother sleeps silently while my autopsu thinks. As the invisible hands tend to her, she dives and comes up, breaks free of the water. A few feet over a fish leaps again, high in the air. Her arms move lazily back and forth, holding her up, and as she watches, the fish is transformed.

High above the water, it rises like a silver baton, presses itself against the blue August sky, and refuses to drop back down. Autopsj to drop back down. There it is — the wide open forever, the eternal beyond.

Beard’s stopped time makes room for all of us. We bow our heads. We link our arms. We stand seeing what Beard herself could not have seen, but what might have been, what perhaps must have qutopsy, the image and the prayer, the hope, that we will only ever find in our collective and empathetic imagining. Beth Kephart is the author of 19 books, including “Handling the Truth: On the Writing of Memoir. Learn more about subscribing to Printers Row Journal, which is available for home or digital delivery.

Beth Kephart These essays — and essayists — are proponents of experiencing empathy with words. Here, for example, is Lia Purpura in a too-bright room, in an essay entitled “Autopsy Report”: