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Excerpts From A Family Medical Dictionary

4.26  ·  Rating Details  ·  132 Ratings  ·  14 Reviews
Excerpts from a Family Medical Dictionary is an intimate, exquisite, and true account of what it is to help a parent die. After her mother was diagnosed with terminal cancer, former home care worker and award-winning writer Rebecca Brown cared for her mother during the last six months of her life. This spare, unsentimental book comes out of that experience. In short chapte ...more
Published (first published July 28th 2001)
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Jun 16, 2015 Jenny rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
4.5. Even though I still cried through large portions of this book, it was an eye-opening read for me and more than just an emotional release. I've never read anything before that made me feel like that when it is time to say goodbye to my parents..that I can and will get through it. Brown's story made me feel that caring and burying one's parent(s) is doable. Horrifically sad and heart-breaking yes. But a real event that happens and can be done. So in a way it was very uplifting for me.
The entire essay moves toward the mother's death which occurs at the very end, rendered beautifully, with a sense of hope (quite unlike Rieff's memoir of Sontag's death) but without religiosity. Yet for me the essence of the book is stated early, on page 28, where Brown writes: "I don't remember when I stopped hoping my mother would remain alive. I go over and over this time in my head. I go over and over as if by thinking differently, as if by my remembering what was not I can remake or change ...more
Shawn (ThatOneEnglishGradStudent)
During and after my reading of this book, my mind was completely blown. You might expect a book of this nature--Rebecca Brown recounting the story of her own mother's battle with cancer--to be thoroughly depressing or self-indulgent, but it is neither. EXCERPTS FROM A FAMILY MEDICAL DICTIONARY is a perfect example of sentiment over sentimentality. As Brown takes us through the various stages of her mother's illness, each section preceded by a medical term and its definition, the story that unfol ...more
Jan 23, 2008 Colleen rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
got this book last year or so and browsed through it but was never hooked. picked it off the shelf though to read in the icu while sitting with my father who is in dire straights with a stroke at the moment, and found great comfort and solace with this book. really honest and straightforward without being too sentimental, it touched me in a brand new way after my former browsing. perfect time for me to read it. loved it.
Wennie Hong
Sep 14, 2013 Wennie Hong rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
I had Rebecca as guest writing professor during my undergrad. It wasn't until after I graduated that I finally picked up this book. I read it in one sitting and cried my eyes out. Immediately after, I called my mom to tell her I loved her. This is one of the most beautifully written books I have ever read. Her writing is simple, relatable, and honest.
A beautifully measured account of the death of the author's mother from cancer, this book tells its painful story in a no-nonsense straight-ahead fashion that makes the sadness feel more present. It's a book that makes you want to be a better person to your loved ones. Or at least a person who lives life and faces death with beauty and empathy and grace.
Oct 10, 2010 corinne rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
this book is so beautiful and stark. her writing is heartbreaking and perfect for the barren lands of grief and loss. it is a detailed portrait of accompanying a loved one through hospice care.
Jul 22, 2008 Nita rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: mfa-books, memoir
An unusual and intriguing structure - arranged by topic rather than chronology but still having a narrative arc. Compelling and vividly honest.
Apr 16, 2008 Seven rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
a sad lovely happy book about a daughter (her siblings) and a journey with a mother dying from/living with cancer.
S Katherine
Oct 02, 2007 S Katherine marked it as to-read  ·  review of another edition
This looks fab by such an amazingly talented writer, I can't wait to read it....wish list, wish list, wish list.
Frances Chiem
Jul 08, 2013 Frances Chiem rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
If you love your mother and haven't seen her for awhile, this book might make you cry openly in public.
Apr 04, 2011 Ann rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
No one writes about death and grief and family as unflinchingly as Rebecca Brown does in this book.
Elizabeth Frankie Rollins
For preparation for death, yours or anyones, you should read this.
Aug 23, 2007 Keisha rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
difficult, but necc.
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Rebecca Brown’s diverse oeuvre contains collections of essays and short stories, a fictionalized autobiography, a modern bestiary, a memoir in the guise of a medical dictionary, a libretto for a dance opera, a play, and various kinds of fantasy.
More about Rebecca Brown...

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