Aug 5, 2011

the biography of cancer

i never thought a book about cancer would hold my attention so completely. cancer is not a subject i want to even think about. but awhile back, the NYT had a fascinating article about The Emperor of All Maladies, and i suggested to the local librarian that he should purchase it. he said "sure, who's gonna read THAT!"  to my surprise, he did buy it -- even before it won the pulitzer prize! so then of course i had to at least sign it out and begin to read it. and something about the way it is written kept me reading. 

the author has a love for his profession and also for all of the great poetic scientist-writers. soon i was drawn into the stories of trials, theories, frustrations, successes, life and death, pride and battle, and enjoying the writer's vocabulary and use of words. over and over i was pleased and impressed by tangential quotes and references, the breadth of awareness beyond the medical world. i began stealing sly peeks at the author's photo and the brief bio on the back flyleaf.

that was it. i fell in love. if i were 13 i would put siddhartha mukerjee's picture on my wall and maybe write him a fan letter!  ironically, he totally looked like he should be dreamily holding a cigarette (smoking is one of the things in the book that gets him steamed).

400 pages and then another 100 of notes, index, bibliography, appendix. hard to believe i am sorry to have finished a book i would have expected to be gross and joyless.  and how does cancer's biography end? what's our prognosis?  well no spoilers, you'll have to read it for yourself!

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