Saturday, December 7, 2013

Book Review: Notes From a Minor Key by Dawn Bailiff

A confession: I read this book more than a year ago, and I fully intended to review it for this blog soon thereafter. I know I had all kinds of specific thoughts I wanted to share, but my memory now offers only general impressions. The perfectionist part of my wants to reread the book just to write a better review, but I'm fighting the urge.

I was extremely interested in this memoir because it is about a professional musician with MS, and it wasn't disappointing in that it painted vivid pictures of both life as a musician and life as an MS patient that I could very much relate to. Here are some of my general impressions of Bailiff's memoir:

  1. It is very well written, with some beautiful descriptive passages.
  2. Bailiff had some incredible musical experiences with some incredible people.
  3. I would have enjoyed this book much more if she had left out the parts about her supposed psychic abilities.
  4. Bailiff discusses repression-as-cause-of-MS in a similar vein to Gabor Mate. She takes it further to equate the higher rates of MS in women to a socially inflicted female shame, calling MS a "malady of repression, of anger and frustration turned inward - maybe even of self-hatred." As I've discussed before, I find these theories quite troubling.
  5. I dog-eared a page because it is a description of my worst symptom: "There is this creepy, itching sensation all over my body, but when I scratch, I realize that the itch is inside my skin, underneath it somehow, and I can't get to it." Bingo.

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