A young woman's articulate and passionate journal of the last 13 months of her life. Warner, an award-winning poet and...

READ REVIEW

DANCING AT THE EDGE OF LIFE: A Memoir

A young woman's articulate and passionate journal of the last 13 months of her life. Warner, an award-winning poet and journalist (coauthor, with Michael Shuman, of Citizen Diplomats: Pathfinders in Soviet-A merican Relations and How You Can Join Them, 1987), was diagnosed with lymphoma at the age of 30. Her intensely personal record of living with cancer, filling nearly a thousand handwritten pages at the time of her death, is a remarkable document. What is probably most astonishing is the spirit, the optimism with which she battled her cancer, first with chemotherapy, later with radiation therapy, and still later with a bone marrow transplant. Warner's religious beliefs permeate her journal; to categorize them is impossible, even for her (she entered ""private"" on a hospital form requesting such information) but the phrase ""earth-based spirituality"" probably comes close. A nature lover and an active environmentalist, she saw her cancer-invaded body as a metaphor for the earth: She likened the tumor growing in her chest to ""Los Angeles suburban growth,"" and when her breath came in wheezes, she thought of ""the earth being strangled by overpopulation."" A close observer both of the natural world and of her own body, she described herself unsparingly yet uncomplainingly as ""ripening and aging like a fruit"" as radiation took its toll, and she visualized the ordeal of a bone marrow transplant as a ritual of purification involving the mythic elements of water, fire, air, and earth, leading to a rebirth. The nature of evil, disease, healing, love, creativity, prayer, fear, pain, dying, death, and reincarnation--Warner recorded her thoughts on all of these. Three days before she died, she fumed her journals over to her husband, who, in a brief afterword, recounts her final hours. A powerful account of a life fully lived and a death bravely faced.

Pub Date: June 10, 1998

ISBN: N/A

Page Count: 224

Publisher: Hyperion

Review Posted Online: N/A

Kirkus Reviews Issue: May 1, 1998