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3.19  ·  Rating Details ·  339 Ratings  ·  66 Reviews
Joshua Cody, a brilliant young composer, was about to receive his PhD when he was diagnosed with an aggressive cancer. Facing a bone-marrow transplant and full radiation, he charts his struggle: the fury, the tendency to self-destruction, and the ruthless grasping for life and sensation; the encounter with a strange woman on Canal Street that leads to sex at his apartment; ...more
Hardcover, 272 pages
Published October 17th 2011 by W. W. Norton & Company
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Dec 10, 2011 David rated it it was ok
Shelves: spurned
My curiosity piqued by some rave reviews, I picked this up today at Barnes & Noble, succumbing to a fever of retail impulsiveness. I rarely buy books in hardcover. And I even rarerly buy books in hardcover by new authors. But I was swept up in the hoopla. When will I realize that the hoopla should never be trusted?

I didn't get very far in this cancer memoir before I realized that the author is a garden-variety douchebag, unduly proud of his cocaine usage, sexual prowess, and scathing wit. Ok
Mar 04, 2012 Michael rated it it was amazing
Shelves: memoir-biography
Loved it. Not for everyone, admittedly.

Fun to look through the other Goodreads reactions to this book. "Overwrought," they say. "Narcissistic," and "douchbaggy" and "pretentious," and I have to say, they're all correct to some extent, but so what? Should we ask that the memoirs we read be careful to please us and make the protagonists likable and not be true to themselves? That's not why I read (the occasional) memoir; usually I'm interested in an experience and worldview different enough from m
Jan 25, 2014 Samantha rated it it was amazing

This book is unyielding, complicated, (often) pretentious (Jesus, can you say that with regard to a memoir about one's near-death experience with cancer --- ?), and dense. So dense. In fact, it reminded me of W. G. Sebald's The Rings of Saturn (one of my all-time favorites), with its pictures and notes and journal entries and tangents. I don't know if the essay goes anywhere. I don't know if we learn a single thing about Cody by the end. And I don't know if we have to. Because for all the
Judith Hannan
May 04, 2012 Judith Hannan rated it liked it
Like the up and down flow of this book, my reaction went from one star to five. I wanted so much to end up at five because there is something so exhilarating about this book. The writer is clearly and original and often brilliant thinker and his writing is powerful and propelled me along. But by the end, I felt I really didn't know Cody all that well. The book was so far-flung that nothing was developed. There were a lot of fascinating pieces but there was little glue or, if I dare use such an a ...more
K. A. O'Neil
May 04, 2012 K. A. O'Neil rated it really liked it
I don't think this book was written for women.

Or maybe it wasn't written for the kind of woman that I happen to be, at the moment. It's well-crafted and enthralling and almost beautiful. But there's this raw, I-had-cancer-but-I-still-got-lots-of-grade-A-tail-all-the-time bravado that I couldn't get used to and wasn't that into.
Jun 16, 2015 Jessica rated it it was ok
It takes a very special talent to write a memoir about almost dying of cancer that results in your readers hating you. It would make for a great creative writing exercise: "Write about a time in which you were deathly ill. Make your readers hate you." I doubt many writers could pull it off. In fact, Cody should have taken a creative writing workshop or two. I suspect he thought that a workshop would be beneath him, a genius. Or perhaps he did go to writing workshops and was forced to listen whil ...more
Feb 02, 2012 Scott rated it liked it
I really liked big chunks of [sic], Joshua Cody's highly-stylized portrait of, mostly, the two years or so of his life when he was diagnosed with, and battled against, cancer: his (understandably all-over-the-map) emotional journey; his (gripping and harrowing) medical struggles; his (often amusing) sex-and-drugs adventures as a thirty-something creative-type living in New York City. I also found big chunks of [sic] to be either unnecessarily confusing or just kind of annoying. Cody, who's a cla ...more
Dec 18, 2012 Sarah rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I won this through a giveaway held here on Goodreads.

Cody doesn't write about his experience with Cancer in the sort of straightforward way many of us generally expect. Rather, it's more a memoir of thought, senses and perception. There were many parts I found delicious to read(his morphine-induced delirium, for example). I also found myself interacting and connecting with the book a great deal, such as listening to the recordings he mentions, envisioning his view of place I've also been to.

Jan 21, 2012 Kyla rated it did not like it
I gave up after 2 chapters. Words that came to mind: blowhard, pretentious jerk, unlikable misogynist with suspiciously Penthouse-letter sounding "encounters"...hence the quitting. Life is too short.
Rebecca Foster
One thing’s for sure: this is not your average cancer memoir. With an in medias res beginning and a stream-of-consciousness style, Cody’s book is to your run-of-the-mill cancer survivor’s story as Formula One racing is to a little old lady’s drive around the corner. His frenetic, drug-fuelled pace (that’s anti-cancer drugs and Class A drugs both) makes for some breathless, breathtaking run-on sentences such as this, as his plane is landing in New York:

you remember the odors and the way diner cof
Feb 01, 2013 Susanna rated it liked it
Shelves: memoir
Hmm. I'm not sure what I think of this book. The beginning of the book was fairly gripping, as an examination of what it is like to be a somewhat iconoclastic cancer memoirist, someone who is writing the book *about* cancer diagnosis and treatment, but to whom the cancer diagnosis is just one part of his life, rather than what the book is *about.* The topics Cody covers are wide-ranging, pretty intellectual while at times almost smutty as well -- the memoir is an examination of love in the light ...more
Mar 03, 2012 Juan-Pablo rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
No-clichés cancer-memoir

My UK edition of this book comes with a Jonathan Franzen’s front-page endorsement, “Writing this rawly self-conscious has no business captivating you, let alone moving you. That it manages to do it anyway is a testament to Mr Cody's talent, honesty and singularity.” Well, considering that Mr Cody published the book, I assume that he has an interest captivating his readers. He manages this partially.

Mr Cody can certainly write. His prose is lively, intelligent, and enterta
Dec 24, 2012 Chavi rated it really liked it
I thoroughly enjoyed this book, though there were moments where I felt like I had accidentally ended up in an upscale lounge somewhere where men wear $2000 suits, and drink $1000 bottles of wine and discuss their art collections, and where they invested their fortunes. (In short, privileged and over educated, and unaware of their own narrowness.)

There were pieces of it that were great. Fragments. But the story of illness, I barely saw it. Maybe that's the beauty of it. The story of his illness i
Mar 07, 2012 Jacob rated it it was amazing
This is a great memoir, and one of the better recent books I've read period. For those who read David Shields' "Reality Hunger", this is probably the ideal version of the book he's a proponent of, one that is lyrical and creative and experimental and true. However, for those skeptical of D.S.'s thesis (count me in that camp), the book, despite its off-beat structure and diversions, is a very focused work that tells a satisfying, complete story. Cody's writing is wonderful for anyone, but it's ki ...more
Adam Tebrugge
Apr 16, 2013 Adam Tebrugge rated it it was amazing
I had read a good review of this book and so my wife bought it for me. Once I realized what it was about, I was reluctant to read it but decided I must give it a chance.

The book is certainly not for everyone. There is essentially no plot, at least in the traditional sense of the word. The characters may all be specters and the narrator is unreliable.

However, the writing is powerful and disturbing and funny and literary and captivating. This is a book to be read in small pieces and it leaves a po
David Williams
Jan 19, 2013 David Williams rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
A fantastically funny account of a decidedly unfunny experience. The narration is delightfully tangential, though a bit heavy on the Elliot and Pound references (tempered lovely by mentions of Indiana Jones). Mr. Cody folds intelligence into his writing without succumbing to pretension (unless, of course, you have a phobia of academics, in which one would see pretension in everything). The title itself is the greatest ever; superbly nerdy.

Book received for free through Goodreads First Reads p
John Martin
Jul 17, 2013 John Martin rated it liked it
A harrowing story of unexpected illness and subsequent complications, Cody (interestingly, descendent of Buffalo Bill Cody) relates his experience with urgency and candor. He cites David Foster Wallace as a favorite author and that influence on his writing bugged me in the same way some of Wallace's writing bugged me. I think between films of Paul Thomas Anderson and writing of David Foster Wallace my general reaction has been 'Fantastic, but maybe indulge a little less?' I had that same reactio ...more
May 19, 2012 Alex rated it really liked it
Shelves: own
My friend Josh has written something extraordinary. Probably not for everyone, but more than once, in fact a lot more than once, he got me. The 'Sister Morphine' chapter alone demonstrates an understanding of tone and structure that few writers have achieved. Yes, the book is a memoir about surviving cancer treatment (that phrase is on purpose - it's not just about surviving the disease itself), but more to the point, as he described the book to me, it's sex drugs & rock 'n' roll. Plus an Ez ...more
Jan 10, 2016 Rebecca rated it it was amazing
An extraordinary thing by a guy who seems to be sneaking up on us, because he came out of nowhere. He was a modern music composer, really obscure, but then almost died of cancer and I guess - this is what it says -- turns his journals into this book. But if these are his journals, then I can't imagine what a real book would be like. I said over on amazon I was surprised it even got published, but I'm glad it did.

The audiobook is read by Edoardo Ballerini, an amazing actor from the Sopranos and
Jun 22, 2014 Tristy rated it it was ok
This book has rave reviews all over the place and I can't figure out why. Reading this left me breathless, trying to follow along on this ADHD ramble about everything a young white man thinks about when he thinks he might be dying. There's sex and music and books and art and it all could be really interesting if he just slowed down for a second and stopped viewing and judging the world through his own sexist, distracted projections. Just when I could settle into one topic he is pontificating on, ...more
Melissa Boyd
Feb 20, 2015 Melissa Boyd rated it it was amazing
Like most great art, this work is layered and multi-faceted and stays with you long after you've walked away from it. Cody is honest about who he is and doesn't dull anything for the sake of a broader audience appeal- he is clearly a classically trained musician and classically educated thinker, therefore his work is the product of such a mind. My only reservation is that this work is so intimate that I feel I know him and that we should have coffee and I can't shake that.
CK Malone
Feb 03, 2015 CK Malone rated it liked it
Another quick read that I took much longer with than intended. It's not bad but I'm having trouble figuring out why I didn't like it more. Especially since [sic] is so identical to another book I actually liked...Ben Lerner's 2014 novel, 10:04. In fact, [sic] was published over 3 years before 10:04. Guess I should've read [sic] first.

In any case the two aforementioned books run parallel to each other in construction. Digressions on art, classical music, fiction/poetry (rather prominent reference
Richard Gilbert
Jan 15, 2014 Richard Gilbert rated it really liked it
Refreshingly different, [sic] is exuberant, even manic, while dry-eyed about Cody's plight in a bout with cancer. A possible cost of Cody’s approach is that I always felt distanced from him. How much “knowing” and liking a memoirist matters to you is intensely personal, but partly because of this, at times reading [sic] my mind wandered. Cody’s memoir showcases not only the rewards but the risks of a flamboyant persona.
May 21, 2012 Meg rated it it was amazing
Overly intellectual and completely heartbreaking. I could forgive the former in light of the latter. Doesn't hurt my perception of the book to be watching a friend die of cancer while reading this. Doesn't hurt my perception of the author that he regularly comes back to David Foster Wallace. I had no choice but to fall into some kind of deep appreciation/affection for this entire effort.
Tiffanie George
Mar 05, 2016 Tiffanie George rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I picked this book up from the local bargain store thinking that it would be a straightforward read. To my surprise it was the furthest away from that. [sic] is a memoir of a cancer survivor written in a stream of consciousness style. Sometimes he recounts his experience with the help of his personal notebooks and his mother's journals, sometimes he works from his memories where you can see how fallible the mind can be, especially in times of intense distress. Needless to say, the narrative is n ...more
Aug 17, 2012 Nick rated it really liked it
Shelves: music, non-fiction, memoir
First, Cody is a fine writer with an eye for form and detail. His personal memoir of his struggle through chemo, more chemo, radiation and a bone marrow transplant is both particular and very universal. His willingness to reveal himself at his neediest and most deluded adds much to this brief but moving book, which encompasses reflections on art, relationships, his family, and more.
Jan 11, 2012 Rebecca rated it really liked it
As a fellow survivor, I was excited to read a cancer memoir that didn't come off like a melodramatic made-for-TV movie. This was brilliant, beautiful, hilarious and heartbreaking. It was super real and very scattered at times, which wasn't annoying or distracting, it's just the way thoughts can go when you're navigating the world of cancer. Loved this book.
Oct 10, 2015 Alexandra rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: biographical
Cody's autobiography about the journey through illness is touching and sincere. His struggle with cancer is mostly dealt with through abstract concepts and elitist references to classical authors, musical structures or paintings, which gives an idea of how hard it is to shed light on such an experience in a way that would be understandable for any reader. The one reason why I didn't enjoy this book as much is not Cody's writing, which excels in a postmodern sort of way, but rather his self-indul ...more
Aug 19, 2013 Clio rated it really liked it
Like a butterfly flitting from the depths of despair to the heights of artistic realisation. An inspiring book. A grounded book. Very real. Should have had the last chapter edited out it added nothing and rambled. This is not the sort of book that needed loose ends tidying up. It's beauty was it's seeming disorganisation and organic growth.
Feb 09, 2012 Kelly rated it it was ok
Was looking forward to a memoir of a cancer survivor and what I got was continuous rankings of art and music. Not what I expected. I struggled to get half way through but then he finally got into his experiences. It was better than the beginning but just not what I was expecting. Maybe that's my fault, but I was generally underwhelmed.
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Joshua Cody received his bachelor's degree in music composition from Northwestern University and his master's and doctoral degrees from Columbia University. He is a composer living in New York City.
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