Charles Clanton Rogers

Reflections based on poetry, music, visual art, book reviews, history of science, first-person history, philosophical essays and International Blogging

INTERNATIONAL BLOGGING 2016/01/14

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This is a Book Recommendation: When Breath Becomes Air, Paul Kalanithi 

I started this book at 10:00 PM last night and finished it, in a single session, approximately five hours later. This is NOT my Book Review; it is my strong recommendation.  I may write a review in the future.

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What the Critics Say

Atul Gawande: “Rattling, heartbreaking, and ultimately beautiful, the too-young Dr. Kalanithi’s memoir is proof that the dying are the ones who have the most to teach us about life.”

Ann Patchett: “Thanks to When Breath Becomes Air, those of us who never met Paul Kalanithi will both mourn his death and benefit from his life. This is one of a handful of books I consider to be a universal donor – I would recommend it to anyone, everyone.”

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When Breath Becomes Air: [Publisher’s Summary]

“For readers of Atul Gawande, Andrew Solomon, and Anne Lamott, a profoundly moving, exquisitely observed memoir by a young neurosurgeon faced with a terminal cancer diagnosis who attempts to answer the question: What makes a life worth living?

At the age of 36, on the verge of completing a decade’s worth of training as a neurosurgeon, Paul Kalanithi was diagnosed with stage IV lung cancer. One day he was a doctor treating the dying, and the next he was a patient struggling to live. And just like that, the future he and his wife had imagined evaporated. When Breath Becomes Air chronicles Kalanithi’s transformation from a naïve medical student “possessed”, as he wrote, “by the question of what, given that all organisms die, makes a virtuous and meaningful life” into a neurosurgeon at Stanford working in the brain, the most critical place for human identity, and finally into a patient and new father confronting his own mortality.
What makes life worth living in the face of death? What do you do when the future, no longer a ladder toward your goals in life, flattens out into a perpetual present? What does it mean to have a child, to nurture a new life as another fades away? These are some of the questions Kalanithi wrestles with in this profoundly moving, exquisitely observed memoir.

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Paul Kalanithi died in March 2015, while working on this book, yet his words live on as a guide and a gift to us all. “I begin to realize that coming face to face with my own mortality, in a sense, had changed nothing and everything,” he wrote. “Seven words from Samuel Beckett began to repeat in my head: ‘I can’t go on. I’ll go on.'”   is an unforgettable, life-affirming reflection on the challenge of facing death and on the relationship between doctor and patient, from a brilliant writer who became both.”
©2016 Paul Kalanithi (P)2016 Random House Audio

Charles Clanton Rogers   January 14, 2016

“Before I built a wall I’d ask to know
What I was walling in or walling out,
And to whom I was like to give offense.
Something there is that doesn’t love a wall,”
Robert Frost
banner image courtesy of Myphoung Nguyen
charlesclantonrogers@gmail.com

3 thoughts on ““When Breath Becomes Air”

  1. So poignant! it reminds me of Randy Pausch’s “Last Lecture”.

    The dying teaching us how to live.

    Liked by 2 people

  2. Chillingly ironic and yet it seems he left us with hope. Hope that we all can fathom meaning in life. It is a challenge we all face.

    Liked by 2 people

    1. clanton1934 says:

      It is a challenge that most people I have known deny until the last possible moment. Americans do birth and the beginning of life beautifully. But make a mess of what should viewed as completing journey or even “winning” life’s marathon! Life is a journey; it has a starting and a predictable conclusion. New Orleans’ Jazz funerals all around!

      Liked by 2 people

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