Have you read it? I really didn't like any other of his novels, in fact I bailed on Looking for Alaska. I have no problem doing that.
The main character in TFIOS is diagnosed with Stage 4 Thyroid cancer with metastasis forming in her lungs, but has managed to live with her disease owing to doses of an experimental drug called Phalanxifor (which does not actually exist). When I read this book, thyroid cancer wasn't my reality, but here we go in 2014 and it is. My siblings, father and I have all had thyroid cancer, but we found out today my father's thyroid cancer markers that have lingered for years are present in his lung--a CT scan revealed he has a small nodule there. So crap. For the "good cancer", I would have to say that it really is no blessing. There is no "good" cancer. It's a lifetime sentence. I could go on and on about what a pain in the a*s it is, tell you about my troubles adjusting to synthroid and my fears about full body scans, but I won't. It bores even my own immediate family. Around here there are very few moments when one is allowed a pity party. I've been told to "buck up" by my sister and my husband's eyes seriously glaze over when I whine about things. Apparently I have used up my entire deck of cancer cards.
So instead I'll tell you about a the newest book I have been reading, a long awaited collection of short stories by Lorrie Moore called Bark.
This is a collection of 8 short stories all previously published in The New Yorker. She is that kind of writer: sharp, edgy, and acerbic. I have read everything she's written and even seen her do a reading in Seattle when I was 3 months pregnant. She was at that time a mother of 2 young children and she described motherhood as a "gentle lobotomy". At the time I was perplexed by the comment, but now I fully understand.
These stories are the darkest she has written and capture the sorrows and indignities of middle age as she explores divorce, dating with teenagers, illness, regret, politics--always with a keen sense of humor. I tend to highlight passages in books and in this one I have highlighted the heck out of it.
“He had never been involved with the mentally ill before,” she writes of her mid-life anti-hero in the (sort-of) title story, "Debarking." "But he now felt more than ever that there should be strong international laws against them being too good looking.”
"'A man or a woman-for the massage?' Kit asked now, buying time. She thought of the slow mating of snails, an entire day, being hermaphrodites and having it all be so confusing: by the time they had it figured out who was going to be the girl and who was going to be the boy someone came along with some garlic paste and just swooped them right up."
"Living did not mean one joy piled upon another. It was merely the hope for less pain, hope played like a playing card upon another hope, a wish for kindnesses and mercies to emerge like kings and queens in an unexpected change of the game. One could hold the cards oneself or not: they would land the same regardless. Tenderness did not enter except in a damaged way and by luck."
See? Gems all over the place! I promise you. It wasn't in my public library system, so I treated myself at Barnes and Noble. Sometimes it is such a well deserved luxury buy one's self a hard back book! Do you agree? (I would have ordered from Amazon but I have a new credit card thanks to Target and haven't updated any of my automatic payments. PITA!)