Audie Award Finalist, Biography/Memoir, 2014
Joshua Cody, a brilliant young composer, was about to receive his PhD when he was diagnosed with an aggressive form of cancer. Facing a bone marrow transplant and full radiation, he charts his struggle: the fury, the tendency to self-destruction, and the ruthless grasping for life and sensation; the encounter with beautiful Ariel, who gives him cocaine and a blow job in a Manhattan restaurant following his first treatment; the detailed morphine fantasy complete with a bride called Valentina while, in reality, hospital staff are pinning him to his bed. Moving effortlessly between references to Don Giovanni and the Rolling Stones, Ezra Pound and Buffalo Bill, and studded with pages from his own diaries and hospital notebooks, [sic] is a mesmerizing, hallucinatory glimpse into a young man’s battle against disease and a celebration of art, language, music, and life.
©2011 Joshua Cody (P)2013 Audible, Inc.
“The memoir of the year . . . a book in which the sentences swing into you like small, gleaming axes.” (New York Times)
I'm a bit mystified why so many people seem to be expending so much energy loathing this book. I found it to be poetic, horrifying, funny. His descriptions of living with, and nearly dying of, cancer, are hideous, and they reached me on a cellular level. So far, I and most of my circle have escaped this torment, but I know it's only a matter of time, and this author has spared us nothing in the way of what we can expect. That he went through it and survived is a miracle.
His observations--about family, love, sex, music, art, poetry--are lovely and informative and hilarious and excruciating and personal and yet universal. That said, I admit that once in a while I found it a bit self-involved, but what writing isn't? What good writer isn't? This one will learn to remove his visible self, I'm sure. He's too good not to.
I must say that I didn't read it--I listened to it, thanks to audible.com--and so I may have to give some extra credit to the brilliant Edoardo Ballerini, who read the book to me (and it felt that way--he read it to *me*). My advice is to listen to this book. Don't read it. Let it happen in your ears.
The title of this review is a quote by Paul Klee. It helped me to know and like the work of Paul Klee. This book discusses the artist, Paul Klee, (his thoughts and work) a lot. I agreed with the author about the genius of Klee.
This book is esoteric and obtuse but as an artist it kind of made sense to me. I liked all the artistic references. I felt at home. I remember looking over all my father’s gigantic art books too. I also know cancer having witnessed my sister dying from cancer and both my daughter and mother being diagnosed with cancer at different times and stages in their lives.
Not the easiest listen. But extremely interesting as this author must ponder his own dying and not dying. The book has some humor, humor in the face of adversity.
My own son’s name is Joshua like the auther’s name. I could relate to the diaries of the author’s mother most. No one can bare to see their children suffer. The author deals with and thinks about family a lot. He ponders his relationship to his father in moving ways.
It’s an amazing run on sentence, a jumble of thoughts, feelings, actions juxtaposing art, philosophy, pain, suffering, strategies for surviving cancer, hallucinations, sex, relationships with women in his life. The author pondering am I going crazy or dying? The book feels a little like madness. Almost dying of cancer must feel like going crazy.
I would rather have had a less ostentatious reader. The reader was good but I wanted a more humble reader. I would much rather have had the author read this aloud to me.
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