A health crisis provides an accomplished cartoonist with the richest material of her career.
Though there’s never an ideal time for someone to learn she has cancer, Marchetto (Just Who the Hell Is She, Anyway?, not reviewed) found it particularly ironic that the worst news she’d ever received came during the best stretch of adult life she’d ever enjoyed. She’d started selling cartoons to the New Yorker and was a fixture in other New York magazines as well. She had fabulous friends, fabulous shoes and an overstuffed apartment she could afford. Best of all, in her early 40s and never married, she had fallen madly in love with a celebrity restaurateur who somehow preferred her to all the leggy models who patronized Da Silvano’s and fawned all over him. Then she discovered the lump, learned she had breast cancer and realized that she had let her health insurance lapse. From such potentially depressing material, the author has drawn a triumphant, biting, self-deprecating, journalistically detailed and frequently hilarious account of true love conquering all. In flashbacks to the years before her diagnosis, Marchetto details the conspicuous consumption and competitive cattiness of life in New York magazine circles, before 9/11 put such frivolities on hold. A magazine assignment led her to Silvano’s restaurant, and her romance with the owner changed her life. But would Silvano go through with the marriage once he learned of the cancer? Would Marchetto be able to receive the best medical treatment without insurance? Would the side effects of all those biopsies and treatments allow her to continue the drawing that constituted her livelihood? Somehow, the graphic artist has taken the tone of Sex and the City into the cancer ward, with a happy ending that makes her memoir seem all the more life-affirming.
Inspirational proof that there’s nothing like a death scare to put life into perspective.