In his long and distinguished career, Irvin D. Yalom has pressed his patients and readers to grapple with life’s two greatest challenges: that we all must die, and that each of us is responsible for leading a life worth living.
In Creatures of a Day, he and his patients confront the difficulty of meeting these challenges. Yalom not only gives us an enthralling glimpse into his patients’ desires and motivations, but also tells his own story as he struggles to reconcile his emotional life with the demands placed on him, and reckons with his own life’s inevitable end.
Creatures of a Day shows that the process of psychotherapy can create some of the most engrossing human dramas imaginable. It provides an intelligent, compassionate, and yet unflinching look at the human soul and all the pain, confusion, and hope that go with it. Suffused with humour, great artistry, and a profound humanity, Creatures of a Day lays bare the necessary task we each face, each day, to make our own lives meaningful.
‘Novelist and psychiatrist Yalom offers 10 tales from his clients that illuminate the gifts of psychotherapy, particularly the hopeful lessons one can glean from it in the context of aging and death … [He] has genuinely inspiring insights to share about the value of therapy … The stories Yalom offers of his patients’ failures and triumphs are frequently moving and will invoke the reader’s empathy.’
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‘In Love's Executioner, Irv Yalom invented a new literary genre: narratives of psychotherapy with the pathos of great fiction and the insight of great essays. For those of us who learned so much about human nature and the human condition from Yalom, the publication of Creatures of a Day is a reason to celebrate.’
Steven Pinker, Johnstone Professor of Psychology, Harvard University—and author of How the Mind Works and The Sense of Style
‘Irvin Yalom has produced a book of such piercing depth that to enter into it is transformative. You feel less like you are reading Creatures of a Day than that it is reading you. Only a handful of books can accomplish such a feat. Give praise that one more has entered this rare and precious list.’
Rebecca Newberger Goldstein, MacArthur Fellow and author of Plato at the Googleplex and Betraying Spinoza
‘I‘ve been a deep admirer of Irvin D. Yalom’s writing — in fiction and nonfiction — for many years. In Creatures of a Day he brings together his profound sense of human suffering and joy with a novelist’s eye for detail, for narrative moment. These tales of therapy ring with truth, inviting us to consider the most pressing (moral, spiritual) questions with awe, with hope for transformation. A moving and original work.’
Jay Parini, author of The Last Station
‘These individual accounts of emotional challenges and resolutions shine a brilliant light on what it means to be human and to need help. Together they disprove the book's title in a glorious way: they are a permanent beacon of sanity and compassion and thus transcend the very fact of mortality that they often concern.’
Daniel Menaker, author of The Treatment and My Mistake: A Memoir
‘Dr Yalom has written a magical book. Anyone who has ever thought about his or her own aging or mortality will love this book. The result will be that of meeting, up close, a truly wise man, a really kind man, and of feeling deeply understood.’
George Valliant, Professor of Psychiatry, Harvard University, and author of Triumphs of Experience and Ageing Well
‘A poignant and bracing collection of stories based on [Yalom’s] therapeutic work. Yalom, a published novelist with decades of clinical experience, offers vivid and generous descriptions of patients brought face-to-face with their mortality … Watching “Irv”, as his patients call him, convince patients to unpack their baggage is the chief pleasure of this book. He is overtly kind, sympathetic, and generous, but subtly merciless.’
Los Angeles Review of Books
‘Creatures of a Day is a series of moving, if partly fictionalized, tales illuminating Yalom’s hand-crafted approach to treating grief, loss, regret and, above all, encroaching mortality … [Yalom] is a student of the human condition whose literary, as well as therapeutic, voice mixes wonder and humility.’
‘[A] stunning collection of essays chronicling [Yalom’s] years as a therapist.’