A film producer and screenwriter’s account of how he survived both stage-four brain cancer and surgery that rendered him unable to read.
When Sclavi began to experience severe headaches in 2010, he wrote them off as stress-related. He had been working on a mainstream Hollywood film and was determined to “put in it all the best stuff I had.” Then he collapsed and was told by doctors that he had glioblastoma, an especially aggressive form of brain cancer. Rather than focus completely on his inevitable struggles and losses—an operation that took out nearly an entire side of his brain; a happy marriage that collapsed under the emotional and financial strains caused by his illness—the author manages to tell a tragicomic tale steeped in playful anarchy. Part of how he achieves this is in the narrative organization. Sclavi interweaves the narrative of his post-diagnosis life with humorous stories—such as the time he first began working with the hilariously mercurial Russell Brand (who contributes the foreword) and the time he fell hopelessly in love with the mysterious Macedonian girl who later became his wife—from his happy pre-diagnosis life. When he refers to the cancer, he often calls it “the Aliens.” One place he went to battle them was the National Institutes of Health in Washington, D.C., where he took frequent trips in a “Spaceship.” There, he not only received radiation treatments, but also sessions from a cheery hypnotherapist who “really was Ned Flanders” from The Simpsons. Most remarkable of all is how Sclavi was able to write his story. Typing words into strings he could not read, he slowly put together his book manuscript with the help of Alex, a computerized voice that repeated each word back to him. By turns bizarre and beautiful, the narrative takes readers on a singular journey through illness, survival, and healing.
Uniquely memorable and poignantly surreal.