Book Review: The Essay on a Dangerous Experience
The essay “Essay on a Dangerous Experience” is an excellent example of the power of the personal narrative. This is one of the most popular essays in all the creative writing genres. Authors of this style of essay are usually asked to write about an aspect of their life that is uniquely or extensively interesting to them. They have to describe what event, set of circumstances, or a particular experience that made that event extraordinary or unforgettable. In short, they are asked to use their imagination and tell a “what if” story instead of just regurgitating facts and history.
The essay “Essay on a Dangerous Experience” by Jocelyn McCorkle is an excellent example of how an experienced writer can use the personal narrative to tell an engaging and memorable story. Ms. McCorkle is a marine biologist who has worked in a large variety of scientific and technological positions. Her story begins in the quiet privacy of a beautiful house on the Pacific coast. While relaxing with friends on a sofa, she is suddenly overcome with the memory of a boating accident in which one of her colleagues was severely injured. At first, Jocelyn is too shaken up to call 911 but, remembering the experience later that day, she begins to cry. Thinking that she may be having a reaction to something she ate or inhaled, Jocelyn lies down on the sofa as her friend rushes her to the emergency room of a nearby hospital.
When doctors discover that the accident was self-inflicted, they give Jocelyn diagnosis of acute appendicitis. With her appendicitis still not responding to antibiotics, Jocelyn is sent home. Within a few days, however, she begins to exhibit signs of a serious panic attack. As her condition worsens, she is unable to return to work and her doctor offers her the chance to take a leave of absence.
Feeling like she has nowhere else to turn, Jocelyn decides to drive herself to a doctor’s office in order to tell her story. But when she arrives, she realizes that she does not have to go alone. Sitting next to the emergency room barrier, Jocelyn sees that one of the staff has opened the file on her dresser. Looking through the file, Jocelyn notices a typed list of past incidents that include the events that occurred the night before.
Instantly recognizing that this is one of her most painful memories, Jocelyn takes a moment to compose her story and follow the dots. Armed with this important information, Jocelyn begins writing an essay about her traumatic experience. Armed with her essay and the police report, Jocelyn’s story is about to make headlines all across the country. But even as the paper continues to print her story, her fears begin to surface. As her story makes its way across the country, readers are riveted by the true nature of Jocelyn’s experience and how she took a personal leap of faith to live life again.
The strength of the Essay on a Dangerous Experience lies in its gripping narrative. While some essays may be too short or too long, The Essay on a Dangerous Experience is just right. With a fast pace that drags you right into Jocelyn’s harrowing story, the writing style is clear, witty, and adds a personal touch to the story. In fact, the very quality that makes this essay stand apart from other similar stories, the raw and personal storytelling, is what draws readers into the endearing characters.
The writer’s voice is strong throughout The Essay on a Dangerous Experience, but this voice is supported by powerful illustrations and photographs that are included in the book. This vivid portrayal evokes the panic and disorientation felt during a traumatic experience. In addition to strong writing, The Essay on a Dangerous Experience is filled with photographs that allow the reader to see the raw and physical aftermath of Jocelyn’s ordeal. The photographs offer a glimpse into what life was like for Jocelyn after the attack and offer the opportunity for the writer to draw comparisons between her experience and those of other sufferers. Combining personal writing with powerful illustrations leaves The Essay on a Dangerous Experience with a unique place in the field of trauma literature.
Though The Essay on a Dangerous Experience is fictional, the writing style is based upon real-life events. Though Jocelyn is never physically harmed, she does experience intense anxiety and stress following the attack. This stress is clearly visible in the way Jocelyn wails and wrenches her hair while she attempts to comfort her distressed mind and body. The emotional impact of the story, combined with its suspense and gripping plot, makes this unique composition an essential addition to every library.