Monday, February 2, 2015

Book Review: Creatures of a Day by Irvin Yalom

Creatures of a Day by Irvin Yalom
I was lucky enough to receive an advance reader copy of Irvin Yalom's latest book Creatures of a Day: And Other Tales of Psychotherapy.  It's due out on February 24 but available now for pre-order.

Yalom, a prominent San Francisco psychiatrist and writer, offers a collection of ten stories from his experiences providing therapy to a diverse group of patients.  The stories focus on questions of mortality and how we find meaning in our lives as we age.

Therapists, and those who have benefited from therapy, will likely enjoy this opportunity to get closer to Yalom and his work.

As a therapist, it is a pleasure to watch the doctor as he navigates some of the most challenging existential questions that affect us all.  Yalom is humble and direct, yet clearly a master psychotherapist.

While the theme is mortality, the stories are not dark but rather are full of peaceful acceptance.  He is not afraid to touch on his own process of aging and facing the inevitability of his own future death as this process comes out in his sessions with patients.

Yalom offers profound depth in the clinical encounters he relates and writes in a style that is accessible to therapists and non-therapists alike.  He creates an intimacy with the reader while exploring the serious topic of life and its limits.

I am reminded of Garcia Marquez's One Hundred Years of Solitude in which the only way to achieve immortality and live on, as Melquíades discovers, is through writing.  Though he is but a creature of a day, Yalom is known and will be remembered for years to come by the many people he has touched through his therapy and writing.

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