Sandra Cisneros on Her, Novel Have You Seen Marie?

Monday, February 25, 2013

Internationally acclaimed novelist Sandra Cisneros talks about her latest, a tale of loss, grief, and healing. Have You Seen Marie? is a richly illustrated fable for grown-ups about a woman’s search for a cat who goes missing in the wake of her mother’s death.


Sandra Cisneros

Comments [2]


I very much admire Sandra Cisernos' writing but I would like to dispute a claim she made more than once in her interview with Leonard Lopate: that antidepressants necessarily inhibit the ability to experience true and deep emotion. In my personal experience, they can have the opposite effect for someone who is suffering from clinical depression. For me, it was the depression that was "numbing," limiting my ability to feel anything real. Once I found a drug regimen that worked for me, my emotions, both good and bad, returned and I found that my writing took on a deeper and more nuanced emotional quality that it lacked while I was in the grips of serious depression.

Although this is a bit of a tangential comment, I am sharing this because I fear that promoting the idea that depression is akin to true emotional depth and its treatment somehow undermines that depth will discourage people from getting life-saving (as it was in my case) treatment as well as minimize or disregard the suffering caused by clinical depression.

I do not believe that Ms. Cisernos in any way intended to endorse these ideas so it is important to me that she be made aware of some of the implications of her statements. While I do not make any judgements on Ms. Cisernos' particular experiences, I do think it is important to distinguish in general between appropriate and healthy grief and clinical depression. In addition, it is important to remember that there is a very wide range of experiences that people can have with antidepressant medications and it is misleading to make such overarching claims about their effects.

Feb. 25 2013 02:22 PM
Mia from Manhattan

In 2009 Christopher Buckley touched on that feeling of being an adult orphan in his book and the essay/excerpt that ran in the NY Times:

In it, he writes:

"To the extent that this story has a dimension beyond the purely personal, I suppose it’s an account of becoming an orphan. My mother and father died within 11 months of each other in 2007 and 2008. I do realize that “orphan” sounds like an overdramatic term for becoming parentless at age 55, but I was struck by the number of times the word occurred in the 800 or more condolence letters I received after my father died. I hadn’t, until about the seventh or eighth reference, thought of myself as an “orphan.” Now you’re an orphan. . . . I know the pain myself of being an orphan. . . . You must feel so lonely, being an orphan. . . .

When I became an orphan it felt like the earth dropping out from under me. . . . A certain chill began to encroach, until I was jolted out of my thousand-yard stare by an e-mail message from my old pal Leon Wieseltier, to whom I’d written that I was headed off to Arizona for some R and R: “May your orphanhood be tanned.”

One realization does dawn upon the death of the second parent, namely that you’ve now moved into the green room to the River Styx. You’re next. Another thing about parental mortality: No matter how much you’ve prepared for the moment, when it comes, it comes at you hot, hard and unrehearsed.

Feb. 25 2013 01:14 PM

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