cover image Cost of Living: Essays

Cost of Living: Essays

Emily Maloney. Holt, $27.99 (240p) ISBN 978-1-250-21329-7

Maloney artfully unpacks the fraught connection between money and health in her brilliant debut collection. She began working as an emergency room technician to pay off medical debt that piled up after a suicide attempt, and with subtle wit and moving vulnerability, she explores how survival is dependent on capital, offering a unique perspective on the American health-care system. In “A Brief Inventory of My Drugs and Their Retail Price,” Maloney decries the cost of the medications prescribed to her for her mental health care: “Why was living so much easier for everyone else?” she laments. “Training Days, or On Experience” details the evangelizing EMT instructor who introduced Maloney to the harshness and patriarchy present in her field, while “Something for the Pain” amounts to a compassionate take on the relationship between chronic pain sufferers and big pharma. As she writes, “I am always suspect of people in pain. Or I was. Or I can be.” Maloney is masterful at beginning in a place of skepticism and ending with empathy, all while weaving in her own fascinating story. Readers will be eager to see where she goes next. (Feb.)