Thursday, July 22, 2010

I Am The Central Park Jogger

A Story of Hope and Possibility
by Trisha Meili

From Amazon: "In April of 1989, a young woman was brutally assaulted and raped while jogging in New York’s Central Park. The attack captured headlines around the world as the anonymous "Central Park Jogger" fought to recover from massive injuries that left her near death. Fourteen years later, in this first person account, Trisha Meili broke her silence to discuss the incident in her own words and reveal who she was before the attack and who she became as a result of it. Meili tells the story of a competitive and driven young executive at a finance firm whose life was destroyed, and how she ultimately rebuilt it. Passages where Meili is reunited years later with the doctors and nurses who saved her life are especially compelling, as are her accounts of testifying in court and her first run after the incident. While her candor is remarkable and certainly moving, it’s worth noting what this book does not include. Meili can provide no detail of the actual attacks (she has no memory of them), she has little to say about the racial controversy her case ignited, and she only briefly mentions the fact that, during the writing of this book, the convictions of her attackers were vacated after another man confessed to the crime. But these are not necessarily omissions; they are simply not central to Trisha Meili’s highly readable story of tragedy and, ultimately, triumph. I Am The Central Park Jogger is not just a book for New Yorkers curious to finally hear from "The Jogger"; it’s an inspirational tale of overcoming enormous obstacles and getting back on the road again. --John Moe"

Monday, July 12, 2010

Wide Awake: A Memoir of Insomnia (2010)

by Patricia Morrisroe

This appears to be an important book about insomnia.
Robert Pinsky, a past U.S. Poet Laureate, in a brilliant review in the NY Times, wrote: "A corollary to the mysteries of sleep are the mysteries of insomnia. Some people have trouble getting to sleep. Others, like Patricia Morrisroe, as she tells us in “Wide Awake,” have trouble staying asleep. Some people, when deprived of sleep, have hallucinations, or they collapse. Others do relatively well. Nor is insomnia the only problem. According to Morrisroe, “The International Classification of Sleep Disorders” recognizes more than 80 categories, including hypersomnia, narcolepsy, various breathing-related sleep disorders, REM behavior disorder, night terrors, painful erections and _circadian-rhythm sleep disorder.

Morrisroe shapes this material as a personal narrative of her quest for better sleep, an odyssey of encounters with various drug researchers and dispensers, psychotherapists and mystics and conference-goers, as well as a range of savants, bullies, discoverers, profiteers, innovators and at least one sage. The first-person character she brings to this quest isn't ironically brooding or darkly extravagant, nor severely pedagogical."

Wednesday, July 7, 2010

So Much for That (2010)

by Lionel Shriver

This is a fine book that deals mostly with health insurance inequalities and the grossly unfair, tragic and ridiculous state of affairs in the U.S.  It follows two families: one with a wife and mother with mesothelioma and the other with a child with a rare genetic disease, familial dysautonomia.

Lisa O'Kelly's reviewing the book in the Observer writes:  "Dedicating an entire novel to the themes of serious illness and the unfairness of the pre-Obama healthcare system in America is risky. It is unpalatable subject matter and at times, I must confess, I dreaded picking up the book to find out what happened next. But Shriver's furious energy drags you along regardless."

I do not see many major changes here even with the Obama plan.  So Much for That is a great introduction to the state of health care in the U.S.  It is wise and well-researched, educational and a pleasure to read. An important addition to the health care literature.

Monday, July 5, 2010

Fortunate Son (1992)

by Lewis Puller (Wiki Bio)
From Amazon:  Son of the famous World War II Marine commander "Chesty" Puller, Lewis Puller proudly followed in his father's footsteps. It was his misfortune, though, to serve in Vietnam in a war that brought not honor but contempt, and exacted a brutal personal price: Puller lost both legs, one hand, and most of his buttocks and stomach. Years later he was functional enough to run for Congress, bitterly denouncing the war. He lost, became an alcoholic, and almost died again. Then he climbed out of that circle of Hell to write this searingly graphic autobiography, which won a Pulitzer Prize in 1992. One last poignant postscript: three years after the enormous success of this book, the author killed himself.

I remember reading this book when it came out.  It is a memorable book that might be even more important today with so many similarly affected soldiers (and civilians).   An article published on July 4, 2010 in the NY Times "Spirit Intact, Soldier Reclaims His Life" tells a similar story, but focuses mostly on the positive.