Sunday, January 3, 2010

The Diving Bell and the Butterfly, by Jean-Dominique Bauby

This is one of my very favorite books. If I had my way this would be required reading for everyone, as lessons in both elegant use of language and grace under extreme circumstances.

I recently bought this for a friend, and as it's quite small I was able to read it again in just a few hours. I must have first read it soon after it came out, in 1997. In fact I have it firmly intertwined with memories of my first home in Portland, but as the book was not yet published when I lived there that must be yet another unintentional autobiographical falsification. Or hallucination? I do remember quite clearly being devastated upon learning that Bauby had died soon after the book was published.

Where I heard about this book
: Hard to say, after all these years, but most likely NPR.

What I thought of this book
: At the risk of being effusive, I think that it is worthy of all the stars in the firmament.

What this book is about
: It is the memoir of a man who has suffered a stroke. He is completely intact mentally and emotionally, but is only able to communicate with the world by blinking one eye. He's got a lot to say, but must spell it out painstakingly letter by letter with the help of an assistant. Making him one of the great editors of all time.

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