A book of essays (or short stories) can be a little hard to get a handle on talking about or recommending. Some always hit harder than others. And some that eh you don’t really care for one way or another.
That’s the case with Run Towards the Danger for me. Luckily the standout essays really stand out.
Sarah Polley is one of those actresses I’m familiar with but don’t really follow and never did. She’s also a writer and director. (She was writing the draft of Little Women when she suffered her concussion and Greta Gerwig took over. Wonder how things would have been different if she wrote it.)
Polley was a very famous and popular Canadian child actor with a bit of a messy family life. Her father’s weird sympathetic connection with Lewis Carroll’s love for Alice Rydell is a little creepy honestly. I would have been out of there first chance I got to.
Her essay on the time she spent as a child working on The Adventures of Baron Munchausen is the one that garnered the most attention. Sarah talks about the trauma Terry Gilliam put her through to stage dangerous scenes. She has since been backed up on all of this by some of the actors who worked with her. She makes a point about how artists and consumers are often willing to excuse what’s really bad and dangerous behavior under the banner of genius. (Pretty much always white male geniuses.)
Run Toward the Dangers title comes from her essay on her on-going recovery from a serious concussion. The concussion left her unable to do certain things sensitive to light and sound, suffering from dizziness and painful headaches.
A lot of people didn’t believe her but a lot of medical advice centered around basically retreating. Lying down. Going to a dark room. Basically it kept her stepping back from her life. Until she sought treatment with a concussion specialist who said nope you have to step up, run toward the danger and confront what is hurting you.
It’s really fascinating and while I don’t want to read too much of my health into it or put it out there. It’s like your brain is immediately rewired by certain traumas forming new pathways that you keep going down instead of jumping off. It sounds a lot like things I get told about my anxiety.
Not all the essays will work for everyone but the ones that stand out are strong. I feel like a lot of people will find enough to like in this book that it’s worth recommending.