David's Reviews > Nothing Was the Same

Nothing Was the Same by Kay Redfield Jamison
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M_50x66
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Apr 22, 10


I feel terrible saying I didn't like the book much. It's a sad story of her husband's (a very well known schizophrenia researcher) death from cancer and her experience of bereavement, and I have a lot of respect for the author, whose research on bipolar disorder and advocacy for patients suffering from it (of whom she is one, as described in one of her earlier books) have made tremendous contributions.

If I could pinpoint the two features I think contributed to my blah reaction to it, though, they would be:

(a) the core points (I really loved him a lot; he was a great guy; cancer sucks) are important but straightforward and not unique, so holding the reader's attention requires more showing than telling. There were a couple of highlights in this regard (e.g., anecdote about planning the funeral with husband), but far too many incidents were recounted approximately as "so then we went out to dinner at pricey restaurant ZZ and had a delightful conversation with XX about YY" (oh, what was your take on it? what did XX say? what did you eat? Or if recounting it is too boring, just leave the whole thing out).

(b) maybe just jealousy on my part, but it felt like a litany of "we knew the best people, had the best parties, had the right issue positions, went to the best places......". If you're a Washington Post reader, I'd say it was like the medicine/health/science equivalent of the politics/culture columns contributed by Sally Quinn about her life with Ben Bradlee.

To be fair, she's just telling her own story and does not pretend that just any cancer patient could hit upon the strategy of having a close friend/Nobel Prize winner/high-muckety-much-at-NIH pull strings to get him/her into the latest trials or seen by the leading experts and so on, nor that a common end-of-life ritual would be raising morale by attending one of the several tribute dinners put together by your colleagues from around the world.
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message 1: by Patricia (new)

Patricia Loyd you have issues


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