SEEING THE CRAB by Christina Middlebrook


A Memoir of Dying
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 A feisty, smart, and articulate woman with everything to live for acknowledges the inevitability of her approaching death from cancer. When her breast cancer metastasizes, and radiation and chemotherapy fail to halt the disease's spread, Middlebrook, a middle-aged woman with a career, a loving husband, and children, undergoes a bone-marrow transplant in an attempt to buy more time. Her report of the effect of that process on the human mind and body is extraordinary. At one point she describes how her self and her body parted company when the horrific effects of the massive chemotherapy literally became too much for her to bear. As she puts it, ``I, the me of me'' retreated elsewhere while her ``poisoned wreck'' of a body stayed in the hospital bed. The treatment does put her into remission, but she is never fooled into thinking her cancer has been cured. ``Cancer will kill me,'' declares Middlebrook, who confronts that fact with an astonishing openness. When a friend mouths cheery platitudes, Middlebrook notes, ``The subject changed, and knowledge of my foreseeable death slid away--from her, not from me.'' Others may have taboos, but for Middlebrook, there don't seem to be any forbidden topics left. She writes candidly, sometimes humorously, about various problems with sex, money, and defecation. A psychotherapist and Jungian analyst since 1985, Middlebrook says although others expect that her training must have given her a special understanding of life, some knowledge of how to face her ordeal, what it has done, she says, is to equip her to face not knowing. Whatever the source, somehow she has found a way to look death in the face with incredible composure, bravery, and candor. Similar to but richer, more complex, and more revealing than It's Always Something, Gilda Radner's account of her losing battle with ovarian cancer. ($40,000 ad/promo)

Pub Date: April 1st, 1996
ISBN: 0-465-07493-6
Page count: 224pp
Publisher: Basic
Review Posted Online:
Kirkus Reviews Issue: Feb. 1st, 1996


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