In On Immunity: An Inoculation by Eula Biss (Graywolf 2014), as the body transforms into a deepening river, a young queen, a religious document, a government, and a garden, Biss explains how the magic of metaphor is our way of relating to the unsettling, the complex and the invisible. The hero’s journey—in this case, a new mother trying to navigate vaccinations for her son—is an expedition through dialogue and anecdotes supplemented with social, scientific and historical evidence to attain the enlightenment that: morality, like language, cannot be private. At heart, in this hybrid between memoir, nonfiction, and (I’ll argue) poetry, we learn that the body is both self and other, at all times public and private; but, more importantly, that the body knows no privilege.
Eula Biss, On Immunity: An Innoculation. Published by Graywolf, 2014. 216 pages.