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Senza consolazione: Gli ultimi giorni di Susan Sontag

3.16  ·  Rating Details ·  328 Ratings  ·  83 Reviews
Visse la sua vita come ammassando volumi per una biblioteca, o realizzando desideri, molti dei quali rimasti gli stessi della sua solitaria giovinezza. Non lo disse mai, ma mi chiedo se la sua percezione di sé non fosse indissolubilmente legata a questo suo collezionare - l'argomento di tante delle sue opere migliori. Voleva assorbire; non voleva essere assorbita - e di ce ...more
Paperback, Strade blu. Non Fiction, 120 pages
Published 2009 by Mondadori (first published 2007)
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Mar 14, 2017 KamRun rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
آگاهی قدرت است یا محکومیت و بیداد؟ کمترین ستمِ مرگ در حق مادرم آن بود که آنچه در طول زندگی امیدوارش ساخته و به او الهام و آگاهی بخشیده بود، همان چیز مرگ را برایش دشوارتر ساخت

سوزان سانتگ در طول عمر خود سه بار به سرطان مبتلا شد. بار نخست به سرطان سینه، بار دوم به سرطان رحم و بار سوم به سرطان خون ناشی از شیمی درمانی سالهای قبل. سرطان سوم در نهایت او را به وضع تراژیکی از پا درآورد. آنچه در این کتاب آمده، روزهای پایانی زندگی او به قلم فرزندش است، صادقانه و بدون ابهام تمام اضطرابها، افسردگی، خشم، بیم
May 03, 2008 Jessica rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: memoir, nonfiction
Difficult to decide number of stars on this one...a very personal book and one that is hard to rate, as a result; it feels as if I should not rate it at all. One feels it serves a purpose most of all for the author, Sontag's son, though of course the reader is served as well. I started this book when my Dad was in the last stages of his illness, and he died soon after I finished it...I can be relieved that he did not suffer the painful end that Sontag had, though there were some similarities: th ...more
M. D.  Hudson
The book deals with the death of Rieff’s mother, intellectual celebrity Susan Sontag, and so I was expecting a harrowing experience, as serious as cancer as the expression goes. And it was. And I felt guilty even reading it in a gruesome death-porn way. But there is much to think about here, gruesome as it is. As a reader, you have to first get around the fact that the book is poorly written. Rieff is a professional writer/journalist, with seven books to his credit, but his prose was often appal ...more
There is nothing easy about reading Rieff’s agonizing account of his mother Susan Sontag's last nine months. "Swimming in a Sea of Death" seems to portray the dark side of "Illness as Metaphor." I agree with Sontag that, as a society, we need to be aware of the emotional and psychological consequences to individuals of using diseases as metaphors, but her contention that we must see a disease as just a disease, a failure of the body and nothing more, seems to deny some of the transformative pow ...more
Jan 18, 2008 Anne rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
David Rieff, a non-fiction writer and policy analyst, is the only son of Susan Sontag. Swimming in a Sea of Death is Rieff's memoir about the last year of his mother's life and her 30+ year battle with cancer. Rieff's book, while divided into chapters, is more like a monologue of his various thoughts on life and death, and what it means to be a caretaker for the sick and ultimately, the one who is left behind. Desipte the fact that this book is quite short, I found it incredibly repetitive - lik ...more
Jun 11, 2008 Kate rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: nonfiction
I wanted to like this book, or at least to appreciate it (Rieff is a smart writer with a hell of a subject), but I find it hastily written, inadequately edited, and marred by the author's bitterness. Losing a parent can be a shocking and terrible thing, and Rieff seems stuck in his hurt and anger, as well as limited by his intellectual approach. He seems to want to understand something inherently inacessible to the mind. There's a lot of meandering what-if?-ing but no real commitment to personal ...more
Michael Gorodezky
This book was indeed difficult to read, but for those of us who share the author's experience, it is a tremendously validating book. It is an important book for we who stayed behind with words unsaid.

For me,reading many other reviews is much more disturbing than reading the book. I amazed how little many of the reviewers got from the book. I suppose people read such books for many reasons. For myself, I am grateful that David Rieff that the courage to write about his experience. I've often want
Marzieh rasouli
Jan 09, 2013 Marzieh rasouli rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
سوزان سانتاگ تو این کتاب یه آدم خاص نبود یا یه نویسنده ی مشهور، مادر معمولی من بود که خیلی زیاد از مرگ می ترسه، با تقلای زیاد و با عجز اونو پس می زنه و دوست داره هر بلایی سرش بیاد جز مرگ.
Aug 18, 2016 Urszula rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Naprawdę piękna relacja o byciu osobą bliską chorego i umierającego człowieka. Próba zrozumienia i odnalezienia się w sytuacji powolnego zmierzania ku końcowi własnej matki, kobiety nieustannie pełnej planów na przyszłość i niedokończonych spraw. To jest książka bardzo osobista. Rieff niewątpliwie ma talent pisarki, jak Susan, ale jego pisanie nie ma tej formy rozprawy naukowej, który jest obecny w pracach Sontag popisującej się rozległą wiedzą, erudycją. To bardzo dobrze, bo jego książka jest s ...more
Paul Pessolano
This is a son's memoir of his mother's death. David Rieff is the son of Susan Sontag, a noted writer. Susan was diagnosed with breast cancer when she was forty years old and was given two options by her doctors. She could have a radical mastectomy or a treatment that was more dependent on chemotherapy. Susan opted for the radical because she believed that this would give her a better chance at a longer life. She lived for another twenty years before cancer reappeared as uterine sarcoma. She foug ...more
May 02, 2013 Jochen rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Susan Sontags Sohn über ihren Krebstod. Beschreibt das Scheitern ihrer Fiktion, etwas Besonderes zu sein. Die guten und die schlechten Ärzte. Ungeschick gegenüber der kranken Mutter, daß er in dieser Situation eben nicht über sich hinauswachsen kann (wie es im Film sicher wäre). "Sollten die tiefsten Gefühle, die wir für die von uns geliebten Toten hegen, Schuldgefühle sein?" Das erste Mal, daß er als Kind begriff, was Sterblichkeit ist, an einem George-Washington-Denkmal, weil dieser Mann "nich ...more
Sarah W
Those looking for deeper insight into Sontag's life won't find it here. This book is mostly about Rieff trying to come to terms with his mother's death and his guilt over his inability to help her more in her last weeks and days. Rieff mostly fails to resolve these feelings of guilt, and thus the book meanders through Sontag's illness, from her diagnosis to her death, returning again and again to the same painful topics: Sontag's intense fear of death and Rieff's concern over telling her the tru ...more
Feb 10, 2008 Geeta rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: Mark
It's hard for me to separate my response to this book from my response to my own mother's death and my attempts to understand it. I found Rieff's restraint a bit too tight at times, but I thought he raised compelling questions about the role he played in his mother's process and the role of the doctors. Why is it that doctors have no way to talk about death that goes beyond the metaphor of "defeat"? As a society, we have a hard time accepting our mortality, and Sontag's desperate fight to hold o ...more
Marilyn Mcentyre
For readers who have found Susan Sontag's writing invigorating, provocative, and challenging, as I have, her son's account of her last battle with cancer will be especially poignant. I don't think living with cancer is always a "battle," and I don't much like the metaphor, but for Sontag, it was. She wanted to go on living at virtually any cost. Reef's memoir explores his own troubled feelings about what it meant to try to support her in those efforts, encourage her as she lived with great pain, ...more
Feb 03, 2008 Lisa rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
I'm not a fan of his writing style. This memoir would have been better served as a long-form essay rather than in this book-format. Instead, you're subject to his roundabout meanderings and awkward sentence structures.

I did find it interesting that he mentions Annie Liebowitz a total of 2 times and both VERY briefly (1 sentence each). The second time, he was quite candid with his distaste for Liebowitz - "She (Susan Sontag) would not have had the time to mourn herself and to become physically u
Mrs. Danvers
This is so hard to read -- more than anything it is a memoir of guilt and anguish, and that it was published four years after Sontag's death makes it that much more sad for me. Time wasn't helping to smooth the sharp edges of Rieff's pain.

I also feel so sad for Sontag, who was constitutionally incapable of accepting a terminal prognosis. Rieff wonders whether this is true for everyone; having attended a number of deaths I can say it is not. But Rieff's experience is one that needed to be told,
Alicia Kachmar
Feb 16, 2008 Alicia Kachmar rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I read this book a day after reading Sontag's "Illness as Metaphor," something I recommend doing if you have the time. (Illness as Metaphor is only about 90 pages). I found it somewhat sad that Sontag could never accept the idea of death, could never firmly believe that she too would die, just as all humans do. Yes, she had a love of life and intense fervor, but it was surprising that someone at her age (71) and who had experienced disease before, was never able to reconcile herself to the conce ...more
Zöe Yu
Jul 27, 2011 Zöe Yu rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: american
I'm surprised this book got such a low rating. I personally love this book very much, I don't know maybe it is because I study Susan Sontag for a long time, and she will be my constant interest. Her son's memoir is valuable for his mother's studies for sure, and there are many helpful information. Kierkegaard, immortality, Sontag's avidity, and so on so forth.

It shouldn't be rated as two or three stars when one only read her Illness as Metaphor or Against Interpretation. Her entire writing care
My review of this book is harsh. It should never have been published as a book. At best, The New Yorker could have picked it up to do suitable homage to Sontag, but as a book, these pages were painful to read, not because of the subject of death, but because of the desperate need for editing. In a mere 179 pages, the author is redundant in his claims of Sontag's inability to reconcile herself to her own mortaility and his own unresolved guilt. In addition, there is a lack of serious reflection o ...more
Apr 10, 2014 Deborah rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
This is the author's story about his mother's (Susan Sontag, author) final battle with cancer, her fear of extinction and her love of life. Also, his feelings of helplessness and guilt as he tries to support her in her refusal to believe that she will die. This quote stood out for me, a mother whose adult daughter died 7 years ago: "Perhaps we become accustomed to our grief and, as it becomes increasingly familiar, increasingly part of the emotional landscape, it becomes a dullness. But there is ...more
Jan 30, 2008 Richard rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
A short account by Susan Sontag's son, David Rieff, of his struggle with his mother's determination to fight a 'death sentence' as well as his own questioning of his role in that final year of her life. It seemed sad to me Sontag was never able to come to terms with her mortality, but that was her way of 'living' her life and death, and who am I to say she was wrong in how she did it. Rieff seems pretty honesty in his own questioning of his role; tho I felt he went on a bit long about it. It's a ...more
Feb 04, 2008 Doneen rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
I thought this book would be interesting--a memoir of a son grieving his famous mother, author Susan Sontag, but it was the most impersonal account of a family member's death I've ever read. I came away thinking he'd written about someone he'd hardly even met, let alone loved and lived with. Very disappointing.
So good--devastating, sad, smart--a meditation on a mother's death, informed by philosophy & literature. Hard to read and yet I couldn't stop. I am compelled to find David Rieff and hug him and thank him for writing this book.
Jan 28, 2016 Judy rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Rieff writes of his mother's death, author Susan Sontag. It was interesting but I wish it had been longer and told more about her life.
Sandra Rodríguez-Orta Rigo
Difícil decidir las estrellas para este libro. Por la ayuda que me ha prestado y las veces que me he reconocido en David Rieff, le daría cuatro. Pero hay veces en las que me parece que se pierde en divagaciones complicadas y repetitivas, por eso le doy tres.

No sé si este libro puede interesar a quien no ha perdido a su madre, a quien como yo busca consuelo, puede servirle.
Jessica Rae
Apr 29, 2008 Jessica Rae rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: hardly anyone
Shelves: illness-memoir
i hate to kick a guy when he's down, but...

Susan Sontag’s son, David Rieff, wrote the horrendously titled “Swimming in a Sea of Death” in an apparent attempt to bear witness to Sontag’s last nine months of life and her attempt to cope with a diagnosis that terrified her. Additionally, this is the story of the son, who, as a result of his “own grave failings as a person” and the difficulty and circumstances of his mother’s illness, felt unable to console or comfort Sontag as she died. (I’ve over-
Feb 20, 2014 Ruth rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
At first, I did not love this book. For example, the title and cover. The title is lame. As far as the photo on the cover, I am sure there are better photos of Ms. Susan Sontag, who is the subject of this memoir.

Susan Sontag's alliterative name is one I have always liked, without knowing anything about her. The book is a short, non-fiction account of Mr. David Rieff’s mother’s death from a very aggressive form of cancer at age 71.

In the great Cancer book I read {Emperor of all Maladies}, S.S. w
May 09, 2013 Lanier rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
This account of one son’s grief and regrets at “doing his duty” telling his dying mother, Susan Sontag, what she needed to hear the most – hollow hopes – was difficult at times. Fortunately, I’ve never had to sit by lying to a loved one as they slip away. I hope that never passes my plate. However, if it does, my honesty policy would probably disappear for those moments. Even when Sontag knew he and others were simply placating her, all parties seemed to continue painting these imagines on erasa ...more
May 31, 2016 Judy rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: memoir
Very interesting and sad memoir. I always want a satisfying ending to a person's life - to me that means a person has accepted that they had a useful life (at least in some aspects) and is ready to meet his/her maker. And can even pass along a blessing to his/her loved ones. Unfortunately, David Rieff's mother, Susan Sontag, desperately did not want to die. My thought processes seems to run like hers, and that doesn't make for a peaceful, satisfying ending, either for the person himself, or for ...more
Feb 22, 2008 Mark rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: recentlyread
This is a painful, or depressing, book mostly if you’re in denial or haunted by guilt—two pretty popular and human responses to death, the “before” and “after” of losing a loved one. I think writing it was for Rieff therapeutic, a good way to look hard at those persistent questions or doubts we as survivors have about our decisions, responses, communications— did we say, do, sacrifice all we could?—and that opens up the whole history of our relationships with people now ghosts. Yes, Rieff is som ...more
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  • Excerpts from a Family Medical Dictionary
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  • Sempre Susan: A Memoir of Susan Sontag
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  • Mourning Diary
  • Commentary
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David Rieff is an American polemicist and pundit. His books have focused on issues of immigration, international conflict, and humanitarianism.
More about David Rieff...

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“به همان اندازه که متعهدیم به دیگران بگوییم چه چیز قابل قبول است، همان‌قدر تعهد داریم که نگوییم چه چیز قابل قبول نیست” 4 likes
“Perhaps we become accustomed to our grief and, as it becomes increasingly familiar, increasingly part of the emotional landscape, it becomes a dullness. But there is no closure, no forgetting. One mourns those one has loved who have died until one joins them. It happens soon enough.” 2 likes
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