I got a joke in.
“So – we'd better get cooking the meth,” I said to the Poet.
In July 2014, Jenny Diski was diagnosed with inoperable lung cancer and given “two or three years” to live. S ...more
In Gratitude includes the fascinating details of Diski's relationship with Doris Lessing (and author I admire greatly and who, in some ways, shaped my life in the 1970s). This story is alternated with Diski's recounting of her life with ca ...more
"Where am I going? Nobody knows. Can I come with you? Aye, bye and bye. There is a kind of excitement. This, that I've never done, already done, but previously, in a different form, an absolute otherness, nothingness, knowingnessless. That everyone has done, will do, world without end. The ending, and the world going on, going about its daily business. A world without me. To have known but not have any apparatus to know with. The excitement of a newness that is as old ...more
In the opening of the book Diski wrote disapprovingly of cancer clichés, bucket lists and her ...more
In terms of her childhood ...more
• It’s absurd to complain about the uncertainty of life expectancy – we’re all just a breath away from the end of our lives
• I could put on a performance that seemed good enough to convince most people. The problem was that I had no idea what this ‘normal’ was that I was supposed to achieve.
• we know our planet is part of our universe, but there remain gaping holes of incomp ...more
In addition to learning about Lessing in h ...more
When I discovered this book I had never heard of Jenny Diski nor have I ever read any of her other works. What I found is that her writing is incredibly pleasing to me.
It is so truthful and she doesn't work to please others with the comprehension of her life - currently and in the past.
Although she almost dubs this a "cancer memoir" I feel that this is more of a diary, a mash of thoughts she ...more
Two intertwined parts: record of Diski's experience (she hates the use of the word battle) with lung cancer/ memoir of her years as the ward of Doris Lessing. (Lessing does not come across as a particularly nice person -- not much of a surprise there!)
This book is both amazingly honest and surprisingly opaque. Diski's plain language is twisted into syntax so counterintuitive that meaning seems to fall away. This makes total sense ...more
"Well here I am at last. Comfy, with friends, not alone. Only I didn’t know anyone’s name, or who they were. But perhaps that didn’t matter either. That was when Doris crossed me off her Christmas list. Or thereabouts. Wild, dangerous, a woman with an active uterus that might do anything, and drugs as well. Hopeless. ...more
portrayals of the author's past and her present preoccupation with cancer.
The book deals with the formative years she spent living with Doris Lessing
from age 15 to 19 and encouraged her wish to become a writer. Diski's book
was published on April 21, 2016 and she died on April 28. This is much more
than a cancer diary and is an excellent piece of work. ...more
This book pulls no punches, I knew little of Diski and started out of interest, her beliefs are so different from mine. They challenge the reader and our view of living and death.
Having been lifted out of a desperate childhood by the largesse o ...more
In Gratitude, is in equal parts unsettling and engaging. I couldn’t stop reading, though I have to admit at times I wanted to. Mostly that’s due to my stuff as they say, by which I mean my mother’s death from lung cancer 3 years ago. I remember as a small precocious child reading about cancer in one of my mother’s women’s magazines, and instantly being stricken with terror. Cancer could happen to my mother. O ...more
She was a fabulous writer.
This volume is a version of the last essays she wrote for the London Review of Books, between her diagnosis in Sep 2014 & towards the end.
It is in parts a meditation / diary on the process of dying and cancer treatments. And the bulk of it is the untold story of her relationship with Nobel Prize winning author Doris Lessing, who took Diski (or Jenny Simmons as she was then) in as a 15 year old from ...more
Good and bad; from here to eternity, and from eternity to here. But I have been not here before, remember that. By which I mean that I have been here; I have already been at the destination towards which I’m now heading. I have already been absent, non-existent. Beckett and Nabokov know:
I too shall cease and be as when I was not yet, only all over instead of in store.
From an Abandoned Work
The cradle rocks above an abyss, and common sense tells us that our existence is but a brief crack of light between two eternities of darkness.
This thought, this fact, is a genuine comfort, the only one that works, to calm me down when the panic comes. It brings me real solace in the terror of the infinite desert. It doesn’t resolve the question (though, as an atheist I don’t really have one), but it offers me familiarity with ‘The undiscovered country from whose bourn/No traveller returns’. I’ve been there. I’ve done that. And it soothes. When I find myself trembling at the prospect of extinction, I can steady myself by thinking of the abyss that I have already experienced. Sometimes I can almost take a kindly, unhurried interest in my own extinction. The not-being that I have already been. I whisper it to myself, like a mantra, or a lullaby.”