Wish I Could Be There

Wish I Could Be There

Notes from a Phobic Life

Written by:

Additional Formats
  • Ebook
  • ISBN 9781101202074
  • 288 Pages
  • Penguin Books
  • Adult


In addition to being the son of famous New Yorker editor William Shawn and brother of the distinguished playwright and actor Wallace Shawn, Allen Shawn is agoraphobic-he is afraid of both public spaces and isolation. Wish I Could Be There gracefully captures both of these extraordinary realities, blending memoir and scientific inquiry in an utterly engrossing quest to understand the mysteries of the human mind. Droll, probing, and honest, Shawn explores the many ways we all become who we are, whether through upbringing, genes, or our own choices, creating “an eloquent meditation upon the mysteries of personality and family”* and the struggle to face one’s demons.


“A harrowing, essential book about the force of fear gone wild in one person’s mind and body.”
-Chicago Tribune

“Remarkable. A brave, eccentric, and utterly compelling book that’s as revelatory and candid as anything ever written by Joan Didion, and as humane and scientifically fascinating as any one of Oliver Sacks’s case studies.”
-Michiko Kakutani, The New York Times*

“A vividly written combination of memoir and scientific inquiry.”
-The New Yorker