Deborah A.'s Reviews > [sic]

[sic] by Joshua Cody
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's review
Jan 06, 2012

really liked it
Read from December 30, 2011 to January 06, 2012

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12/30/2011 page 150

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Deborah A. The New York Times reviewer recently called this the "memoir of the year." That, and the reviewer's remark that it was full of wild sex, made me rush out to read it. It's the free-ranging memoir of a young composer who survived cancer and a bone marrow transplant that resulted in near-death, had an affair with one of his healthcare providers who subsequently came unhinged, and kept diaries all along the way. The author also includes portions from his mother's diaries and his deceased father's unpublished writings. Along with photos and other graphic elements, this book seems inspired by W.G. Sebald with its pastiche of visual and "found" elements, asides, and digressions.

I found the experience of reading this book fascinating and infuriating. Joshua Cody has some very interesting things to say and is probably most interesting when he's writing about music and comparing music to literature. His description of a near-death experience was also worth the price of admission. But sometimes what Cody has to say feels awfully hermetic, self-involved, narcissistic, and in need of some editorial refinement. I couldn't quite follow the meanings that the author attaches to the work of Ezra Pound and others. I didn't see the value of including his father's writings. Though kiss and tell is always bound to be biased, I really wanted to hear the healthcare provider's side of the story. Did Cody's narcissicism or caddishness have a role to play in her becoming unhinged? Or was she really as batshit as portrayed? What was she doing sleeping with a former patient? Was he that irresistible?

If you're a memoirist or a committed reader of memoir, this book is worth reading. Maybe understanding the Pound and other references just required more work than I was willing to put in. At least the author has original ideas to impart and is not just exploiting the most dramatic elements of his story. If anything, the drama is nicely underplayed.

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