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Bodily life is an uneasy business. The terror of disease is a ubiquitous one. New diseases are being discovered all the time. This book collects twenty contemporary diseases—privacy, for example, or innovation, or involuntary compassion—and presents their primary symptoms and etiologies. It presents sufferers’ anecdotes: Owen wakes up one day made of glass. Deirdre is allergic to tourists. A middle-aged diabetic is haunted by the feet of a Kurdish refugee child. Apples develop a persistent tremor, and peanuts plot underground. Human resilience is tested in dramatic new ways in Disease.
Daniel Haeusser, Strange Horizons (20 September 2021)
Through their unconventional style, … the stories of Tolmie’s Disease are a splendid combination of serious, heart-breaking, and funny. Though the collection is short, it has an intelligence that benefits from careful reading.
Lisa Timpf, The Miramichi Reader (22 July 2021)
Sarah Tolmie’s Disease is a collection of 20 speculative fiction pieces depicting imaginary ailments such as addiction to butterscotch pudding, allergy to comedy, and the compulsion to innovate even the simplest of actions. Written in a matter-of-fact way, albeit with a dose of humour, the “articles” could almost fool the reader into thinking they are written about real situations. The inclusion of “case studies” adds to the sense of authenticity.
Gabino Iglesias, Locus, Issue 723 (April 2021)
Sarah Tolmie’s Disease is a strangely funny book about fictitious diseases and psychological conditions. Presented in a scholarly tone that resembles a series of academic case studies, this book looks at some bizarre ailments that range from scavenging, a psychological affliction in which people compulsively move into old houses, to a poor guy who developed an allergy to comedy.
[…] It’s not okay to laugh at someone else’s misfortune, but this collection of strange phenomena makes it okay. The beauty of Disease is that it’s packed with reminders of just how fragile human bodies and psyches are, but it simultaneously provokes laughter, which is one of the best medicines in the world.
[…] With a great mixture of funny, sad, and creepy, Disease is a satisfying read that inhabits the interstitial space between humor, horror, and science fiction. Its strange format, formal tone, and array of short narratives showcase Tolmie’s talent and prove that a great imagination and a sense of humor can turn even maladies into great entertainment.
James Nicoll, James Nicoll Reviews (13 October 2020)
Disease is the sibling of such works as “The Endochronic Properties of Resublimated Thiotimoline”, The Devil’s Dictionary , and “Uncleftish Beholding,” which expound on amusing unfactuals…. This is a nicely crafted example of the form, consisting of notes on impossible medical conditions, the implausible presented plausibly. Brevity is strength in these matters; both the individual entries and the book as a whole are quite short and as a consequence, effective.
J. S. Fields, jsfieldsbooks.com (29 September 2020)
A very pandemic-appropriate collection of short works exploring the human condition, wherein said conditions are looked at like diseases…. Disease is, generally, a fun, short romp of literary fiction that feels very timely here in the late stages of 2020.