As We Lay Dying
Terminal illness as a national metaphor
Earl Shorris was dying. A cancer survivor, he had endured the near failure of organs, shuffling among hospitals and a kaleidescope of attending doctors. All the while he mused about death and suffering, by turns elegaic and rhapsodic.
His essay, “American Vespers: The ebbing of the body politic”, featured in Harper’s Dec. 2011 issue, is a memoir in diptych; a view of…