A hilarious remembrance of a life-changing malady.

The Dangers of Pimento Cheese

A stroke survivor recounts his struggles in and out of the hospital in this debut book.

In 2006, Ellis was enjoying a pimento cheese sandwich, trying to figure out with his wife, Cristie, what DVD to watch that evening. Suddenly, his speech became muddled and his face contorted, and Cristie realized he was in the throes of a stroke. The author was rushed to the nearest hospital, where he spent the next four days unconscious, his wife standing a nervous vigil by his side. Ellis—a professional copywriter—recounts the months that followed in the hospital, a messy mixture of convalescence, rehabilitation, and imprisonment. Some of the struggle is physical: the rigors of occupational therapy, the relearning of basic mechanical functions including speech, an accommodation of some permanent disability. Much of it, though, is psychological: making peace with a loss of privacy and the challenge to modesty that come with hospital life, the reliance upon a daily diet of pharmaceuticals, the fear of a second stroke. Ellis liberally dispenses advice to the reader about how to cope with the aftermath of a stroke, how to avoid one in the first place, and how to manage daily life trapped in a medical institution, almost always delivered whimsically: “It wasn’t until three weeks prior to being released that I discovered the secret of surviving in a hospital room for months. Ladies and gentlemen, I give you The Travel Channel!” He also wryly includes a recipe for Southern-style pimento cheese. The author, who recalls his trials with humor and verve, furnishes guidance on how to be an effective medical consumer, navigating the sometimes coldly indifferent bureaucracy of the medical industry. Ellis eventually returned to work as a freelancer, and even stars in a public service announcement on stroke symptom awareness. The book doubles as a memoir and a cautionary tale—a kind of instructional manual constructed out of personal experience. Ellis’ writing beautifully softens the sometimes frightening subject matter with the emolument of comedy, relating real wisdom with wit. This is an unusually cheery work written about a medical calamity, and every page radiates gratitude for the life the author rebuilt.

A hilarious remembrance of a life-changing malady.

Pub Date: Aug. 25, 2016

ISBN: 978-1-5320-0148-2

Page Count: 140

Publisher: iUniverse

Review Posted Online: Dec. 8, 2016

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If the authors are serious, this is a silly, distasteful book. If they are not, it’s a brilliant satire.


The authors have created a sort of anti-Book of Virtues in this encyclopedic compendium of the ways and means of power.

Everyone wants power and everyone is in a constant duplicitous game to gain more power at the expense of others, according to Greene, a screenwriter and former editor at Esquire (Elffers, a book packager, designed the volume, with its attractive marginalia). We live today as courtiers once did in royal courts: we must appear civil while attempting to crush all those around us. This power game can be played well or poorly, and in these 48 laws culled from the history and wisdom of the world’s greatest power players are the rules that must be followed to win. These laws boil down to being as ruthless, selfish, manipulative, and deceitful as possible. Each law, however, gets its own chapter: “Conceal Your Intentions,” “Always Say Less Than Necessary,” “Pose as a Friend, Work as a Spy,” and so on. Each chapter is conveniently broken down into sections on what happened to those who transgressed or observed the particular law, the key elements in this law, and ways to defensively reverse this law when it’s used against you. Quotations in the margins amplify the lesson being taught. While compelling in the way an auto accident might be, the book is simply nonsense. Rules often contradict each other. We are told, for instance, to “be conspicuous at all cost,” then told to “behave like others.” More seriously, Greene never really defines “power,” and he merely asserts, rather than offers evidence for, the Hobbesian world of all against all in which he insists we live. The world may be like this at times, but often it isn’t. To ask why this is so would be a far more useful project.

If the authors are serious, this is a silly, distasteful book. If they are not, it’s a brilliant satire.

Pub Date: Sept. 1, 1998

ISBN: 0-670-88146-5

Page Count: 430

Publisher: Viking

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 15, 1998

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The author's youthfulness helps to assure the inevitable comparison with the Anne Frank diary although over and above the...


Elie Wiesel spent his early years in a small Transylvanian town as one of four children. 

He was the only one of the family to survive what Francois Maurois, in his introduction, calls the "human holocaust" of the persecution of the Jews, which began with the restrictions, the singularization of the yellow star, the enclosure within the ghetto, and went on to the mass deportations to the ovens of Auschwitz and Buchenwald. There are unforgettable and horrifying scenes here in this spare and sombre memoir of this experience of the hanging of a child, of his first farewell with his father who leaves him an inheritance of a knife and a spoon, and of his last goodbye at Buchenwald his father's corpse is already cold let alone the long months of survival under unconscionable conditions. 

The author's youthfulness helps to assure the inevitable comparison with the Anne Frank diary although over and above the sphere of suffering shared, and in this case extended to the death march itself, there is no spiritual or emotional legacy here to offset any reader reluctance.

Pub Date: Jan. 16, 2006

ISBN: 0374500010

Page Count: 120

Publisher: Hill & Wang

Review Posted Online: Oct. 7, 2011

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 15, 2006

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