Betty Frankel Kirschner succumbed to emphysema one day in June. She had been a long-term professor at Kent State University, founding member of the feminist caucus in sociology, a political activist, a chain smoker. Close friend Laurel Richardson, a key figure in literary turn in ethnographic writing, kept a daybook, relating their conversations and interactions over Betty’s last few months. Rich in memory, emotion, dreams, and life-and-death decisions, the daybook chronicles the ups and down of a terminally ill woman and the impact that illness has on friends, colleagues, and family alike. Richardson also grapples with the ethics of writing deeply personal narratives. Part memoir, part sociological analysis, part eulogy to a departed friend, Richardson opens a poignant window into living an academic life, and ending it.
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