The grim memoir of a querulous husband anxious to explain his role in his wife's suicide. On July 4, 1995, Manhattan editor...

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BUT WHAT IF SHE WANTS TO DIE? A Husband's Diary

The grim memoir of a querulous husband anxious to explain his role in his wife's suicide. On July 4, 1995, Manhattan editor Delury prepared and administered to his wife, Myrna, a lethal solution and then, when she continued to breathe, suffocated her with a plastic bag. After summoning the police, he gave them his diary of the last four difficult months of their life together. This book, written while Delury was serving a brief sentence for manslaughter, quotes liberally from that diary. It also covers their courtship, the early, good years of their marriage, and the later, ""ragged"" years. Complexities and ambiguities abound. Myrna was neither terminally ill nor in physical pain. Badly crippled by multiple sclerosis, she had talked of suicide and had asked her husband for assurance that he would help when the time came. When the disease began to affect her mind and her moods, an exhausted Delury told her that she must act soon if she wanted his help. Both, he says, could forsee only a future of pointless misery and wanted to avoid it. Delury includes excerpts from the couple's letters, among them a note in which he tells Myrna: ""You are sucking my life out of me like a vampire and nobody cares."" That, plus the suicide note he wrote for her to sign, indicated to some that he was pressuring her to end her life. Delury makes no claim to purity of motive, stating, ""I wanted her to escape the horror, and I wanted to escape it, too."" While he says in his introduction that his purpose in writing is to vindicate his wife's decision to die, he seems equally bent on justifying his own actions and venting his anger at relatives whose support he felt was inadequate. Gives an uncomfortably human face to the debate over assisted suicide, and while arguing for its legalization, unwittingly provides ammunition for both sides.

Pub Date: July 1, 1997

ISBN: N/A

Page Count: 256

Publisher: Birch Lane/Carol

Review Posted Online: N/A

Kirkus Reviews Issue: June 15, 1997