MEMOIR OF A DEBULKED WOMAN

ENDURING OVARIAN CANCER

A brutally honest account of the author’s ovarian cancer treatment and a staunch protest against the state of contemporary approaches to the disease.

In telling her personal story, feminist scholar Gubar (Judas: A Biography, 2009, etc.) remains the academic, looking for understanding not just in the medical literature but also in Frida Kahlo's art, Margaret Edson's drama Wit, Barbara Creaturo's memoir Courage and other women's writings, both formal and informal. When the author learned that most ovarian cancers cannot be cured because the disease is rarely diagnosed before it has reached a deadly stage, she made it her goal to help women recognize its early warning signs. A brief, somewhat dry chapter on ovaries and how they have been regarded throughout history precedes her personal account. For her, the treatment began with debulking—a drastic surgical procedure that she calls disemboweling—followed by rounds of debilitating chemotherapy. The surgery launched a cascade of intestinal disasters, including perforation, abscesses, loss of bowel control and an ileostomy. Gubar's description of these indignities is disturbing and graphic. She blames them not on doctor errors but on "the ruthless instruments, technologies, and formulas of the medical machine.” Doctors, she writes, have no alternatives to the standard treatments now available to ovarian cancer patients. In her case, remission followed, but so did recurrence, and she was faced with the decision of whether to undergo further surgery and chemotherapy that could retard but not halt the spread of cancer or to stop treatment and allow the cancer cells to take over her body. Gubar lets the reader inside her mind as she grapples with this issue. Not just a grueling memoir of facing a deadly disease but a powerful exposé of the failure of medical science to find better ways to detect and treat it.  

 

Pub Date: April 9, 2012

ISBN: 978-0-393-07325-6

Page Count: 288

Publisher: Norton

Review Posted Online: Feb. 1, 2012

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Feb. 15, 2012

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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 48 LAWS OF POWER

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...

NIGHT

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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