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The Fear by Christiana Spens
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The Fear

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The Fear by Christiana Spens
Paperback $16.95
Mar 14, 2023 | ISBN 9781914420450

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    Mar 14, 2023 | ISBN 9781914420450

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“Made up of equal parts pain, intimacy, desolation and tenderness, The Fear extracts beauty and meaning from a reckoning with great private darkness.” – Rob Doyle, author of Threshold

The Fear considers how trauma manifests in ways that seem too powerful to tolerate and how it can seem that emotion could be traded or outran by another equally strong emotion, like love. A brilliant look at the maze of personal history and how the wounds we carry will continue to make their journey through us, one way or another.” – Jenni Fagan, author of Luckenbooth and The Panopticon

The Fear is an astonishing book. Spens manages to weave a hybrid tapestry, in which we move fluidly between memoir, philosophy, art and politics. The result is a book that takes us to the edge, lets us look into the abyss, makes us confront a myriad array of fears and their consequences. It is a bold, beautiful and brave book; in it’s form, in the lyricism of its style and in the intensity of its interrogations. At the level of intellectual curiosity, psychological honesty and political urgency it is a text of staggering depth and variety. Spens writes a text that will speak to us all, to the fears that sit heavy on our chests. The result, rather surprisingly, is a book that makes us feel a little less alone, that seems to lift the fear a little, to let us breath fresh air.” – Tom de Freston, author of Wreck

The Fear is a hybrid memoir and cultural study, which uses the personal to reach into the depths of the psychology of fear. Artist and writer Christiana Spens explores how fear impacts our lives – from the personal to the political, through gender politics to terrorism – reffering to images, art, films, philosophy and more. The memoir aspect is written with intellectual detachment creating almost a fable of fear, that space ‘between fear and anxiety’ — at once a psychological study and an intimate portrayal of a woman making sense of the world. It is a finely tuned, fascinating interrogation of an emotion that hijacks us all. Both intimate and psychologically rigorous, The Fear pushes the bounds of memoir into intellectual territory.” – Lily Dunn, author of Sins of My Father: A Daughter, A Cult, A Wild Unravelling

“Intellectually vivifying and deeply moving, The Fear is a dazzling memoir that dances between the cerebral and the tender.” – Sam Mills, author of The Fragments of my Father

“Spens writes beautifully about self-government… the writing is so wonderfully strong about fragility… Read and heal. Never heel to another, mind you.”— Kirsty Allison, Ambit Magazine

“Spens writes herself back to life – and it is a joy to behold.” – Andrew Gallix, The Irish Times

“A powerfully affecting tale of devastation and survival.” – Matt Rowland Hill, The Spectator

“For such a cerebral book, it is also tender and humane; Spens counterbalances her intellectual considerations with moments of stark honesty, and it is touching to see her find inner calm toward the end of the book. It is also a testament to her talent that, although she is dealing with heavy subjects, the reader feels lighter for having taken the journey with her. The Fear deserves a wide readership.” – Joshua Rees, Buzzmag

“An Irish Times - Best Books to Read in 2023”

“Combining philosophical study and personal experience, The Fear leads you through the shadows, pointing out some particularly murky points along the way then provides you with a light to make it through to the other side. [Spens’] experiences are woven with critical, philosophical study, self-reflections and the contemplation of art and politics to ultimately deliver a message of love… As a personal memoir, it spoke to me with a message of hope and a lasting reminder that we’re never alone.” – LoveReading

“The Fear, writes Spens, is the ‘emotional reality of oppression, whether it manifests as an individual battle with repressed memories and desires, or overt socio-political conflicts’.
 Alongside these metaphysical observations are three deftly interwoven personal narratives: her father’s terminal illness; reflections on a series of damaging, abusive relationships; and her PhD research into public perceptions of the threat from terrorism. She recounts her challenges in caring for her father, and of becoming a parent herself. The philosophical approach adds heft, illuminating but never obscuring: Spens is admirably sparing with technical terms, which keeps the narrative engaging and considered. She describes with haunting precision the exacting formality of standardised psychological assessments, which provide a suitably detached view on moments of trauma, the triggering events that can shadow our lives.”Adam Steiner, Review31

“An at times sickeningly lucid exploration of our shadow selves, a stare into heartbreak and trauma as personal and political concerns… But despite the subject matter, The Fear isn’t a depressing book. By searching in the dark places and asking herself uncomfortable questions, the author finds a strength and describes being reacquainted with forgotten parts of herself.” Alice Wadsworth, The Brixton Review of Books

“The Fear is a brave book, both in its emotional openness and honesty, as well as in its complex editorial ambition, which in the hands of a lesser writer could become incoherent. Instead, Spens elegantly segues between the affecting context of her personal life, and a strand of cultural criticism which brilliantly reframes the first quarter of our current century.” - Robert Greer, The Idler

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