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Dying: A Memoir

3.78  ·  Rating details ·  3,550 ratings  ·  467 reviews
Cory Taylor is one of Australia’s celebrated novelists, the author of the brilliant Me and Mr Booker (winner of the Commonwealth Writers Prize, Pacific region), and My Beautiful Enemy (shortlisted for the Miles Franklin Award).

At the age of sixty, she is dying of melanoma-related brain cancer. Her illness is no longer treatable. As she tells us in her remarkable last book,
Hardcover, 160 pages
Published May 16th 2016 by Text Publishing
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Average rating 3.78  · 
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 ·  3,550 ratings  ·  467 reviews

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Paul Bryant
Nov 23, 2016 rated it really liked it
Shelves: memoirs
This year two of my close friends were diagnosed with terminal cancer. One was my fittest friend, the guy who ran regular half-marathons and swam and cycled and jogged every day. But the thing is, four or was it five of his uncles, aunts and parents died of cancer at around his age, so it looks like a genetic thing. The other friend is the guy who really should have quit smoking 20 years ago when he managed to beat lymphoma, but he didn’t, so now he has throat cancer.

Talk about a strange time –
(3.5) “I haven’t died before, so I sometimes get a bad case of beginner’s nerves, but they soon pass.” Cory Taylor (who died in July) was an Australian novelist first diagnosed with stage-four melanoma in 2005; after the cancer metastasized she underwent brain surgery but the end was clearly approaching. She ordered suicide drugs online but it never came to that; instead, she kept the drugs as a kind of insurance policy lest her philosophical shrugs and general good humor failed her.

In trying to
May 17, 2016 rated it really liked it
“…I will miss being around to see what happens next, how things turn out, whether my children’s lives will prove as lucky as my own. But I will not miss dying. It is by far the hardest thing I have ever done, and I will be glad when it’s over”

Dying: a Memoir is Cory Taylor’s last book. Cory writes that she is sixty years old and dying of a melanoma-related brain cancer, and says: “…in this, my final book: I am making a shape for my death, so that I, and others, can see it clearly. And I am makin
Canadian Reader
Oct 18, 2017 rated it it was amazing
“I was as under-prepared as anyone could be. It was as if I had stumbled out of a land of make-believe into the realm of the real. That is why I started writing this book. Things are not as they should be. For so many of us, death has become the unmentionable thing, a monstrous silence.But this is no help to the dying, who are probably lonelier now than they’ve ever been. At least that’s how it feels to me.”

“while my body is careering towards catastrophe, my mind is elsewhere, concentrated on th
May 17, 2016 rated it it was amazing
Cory Taylor is one of Australia's most famed authors. With two books that have won and been shortlisted for awards, she has made her own niche in our literary landscape. Know though Cory, who has been battling melanoma-related brain cancer for the last decade, is facing the reality that she will soon die. It is with this knowledge that Cory explains to us how she went from one fear and disbelief to find peace and accepting of her fate.

The book itself is divided into two section with first on he
Aug 31, 2016 rated it it was amazing
In brief - There is - for me - a real beauty and simplicity in this brief but powerful book.

In full
Can a book about Dying be considered beautiful? If I had any doubts on that Cory Taylor has removed them. The memoir starts with the simple facts that in her fifties she is diagnosed with inoperable brain cancer. There are three chapters in this short book and the first was powerful for me. There is rational contemplation of suicide together with the possible consequences as well as comments on org
Aug 31, 2017 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Again... another memoir I've rated below 3 stars. I almost feel like I'm being disrespectful rating this so low, but this is NOT what I expected at all. Considering the title of this book is "Dying", I had apparently mistaken that to mean it would be about her dying.

2/3 of the book were about her childhood. In particular, her love and admiration for her mother, general disdain for her father and indifference about her siblings. While I can understand how it would make sense to throw in some
Emma Sea
Jun 17, 2018 rated it really liked it
Shelves: death, memoir, pn-library
"I haven't died before, sometimes I get a bad case of beginner's nerves."

Such a lovely book. I cried, and then I cried some more when I learned she died in hospice right after it was published. I wonder what happened to her stockpile of powdered Chinese insurance plan. It's so entirely immoral so many humans are denied the right to choose a safe and peaceful end.
Dec 15, 2017 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: memoir, death
Cory Taylor was born in 1955, and she died of cancer in 2016. Sixty-one seems awfully young to die, especially from my vantage point of fifty-two, and Taylor certainly thought it was premature. She had books she still hoped to write, children she wanted to see established in their adult lives, … plans. And yet, she considers her approaching death with grace and gratitude, refusing, much as Christopher Hitchens did in his death memoir, "Mortality," to snatch up at the last minute religious belief ...more
Sep 28, 2017 rated it really liked it
It gives nothing away to write that Dying: A Memoir by Cory Taylor is about Cory Taylor's death from brain cancer. Cory Taylor was sixty years of age when she passed and from the description in her memoir she led an interesting life and had an interesting family.

Taylor's memoir has nuggets of inspirational thoughts throughout the book, as well as insightful observations learned from the experiences in her life.

One passage I especially felt poignant was, "How it ends I'm only now discovering. I
Apr 12, 2016 rated it it was amazing
Perfectly structured, perfectly told. An unsentimental meditation on family, life and death. This is how I want to go out, having written one perfect book.
Aug 31, 2016 rated it liked it
Shelves: netgalley

'Dying' by Cory Taylor

3 stars/ 6 out of 10

I was interested in reading this short book because I have recently read an obituary of the author.

Cory Taylor spent her latter years in Queensland, Australia. The first section of the book is primarily about her experiences and treatment after diagnosis with cancer. Perhaps because such experiences vary between countries, what Taylor described did not resonate with me. I found the middle section concerning Taylor's life and family much more interesting,
Amalia Kidd
May 30, 2016 rated it it was amazing
I couldn't put this book down and read it from start to finish in one sitting. I was joined by a glass of wine for the final leg. Cory's prose is so honest and resonants with me on a deep level. She tackles those thoughts we'd rather not discuss. Her brutal honesty and most of all her humour keep this memoir real. Since reading it I have had many occasions to recommend it to others, who for a variety of reasons, are grappling with the questions that dying raises. The honesty, humour and deeply p ...more
"That is what I am doing now, in this, my final book: I am making a shape for my death, so that I, and others, can see it clearly. And I am making dying bearable for myself."

What an extraordinary little book.

Its brave and forthcoming, and asks all the hard questions. Cory Taylor wrote this in the final weeks of her life. She has let us, the reader, see into her inner self as she struggles to understand what it means to die.

Taylor muses about her life, how it was a good one. She says "The fact
Sep 06, 2016 rated it really liked it
Illness narratives are fast becoming my go-to books. I find reading about the process of dying both fascinating and humbling. From the outset, Taylor's memoir is incredibly well written. At no point is it self-pitying; rather, her tone is measured and hopeful, startling and truthful. Dying is both easy and difficult to read; the former because of its fluent prose style and the latter obviously because of its subject matter. Taylor is courageous, thorough and thoughtful, and has created an incred ...more
Jun 06, 2016 rated it liked it
I will not miss dying. It is by far the hardest thing I have ever done, and I will be glad when it's over.

There is a kind of reverence that comes with reading passages like this and knowing they were written in the final weeks of a life. This book is extremely personal – and, at times, profound.
Michael Livingston
May 17, 2016 rated it really liked it
A short, clear-eyed memoir, written in the face of inoperable cancer. Sad, but not sentimental, and somehow hopeful in spite of everything.
Text Publishing
‘This is a powerful, poignant and lucid last testament, at once an eloquent plea for autonomy in death, and an evocation of the joys, sorrows and sheer unpredictability and precariousness of life. Taylor wonders if she has found the ‘right tone’ for her story. Her readers will find that she has. It’s a fine contribution to our much-needed dialogue with death.’
Margaret Drabble

‘Cory Taylor’s book is both a precise and moving memoir about the randomness of family, and an admirable intellectual resp
Kirsty Dummin
Jun 25, 2016 rated it it was amazing
This is a quick, straight forward read that shares a snippet of Cory's life, her family and her history in the face of her own death. It's not depressing or tragic, just matter of fact. Cory touches on many poignant points about life and death, and while I'm sure writing this book was somewhat of a meditation for her, it's also something that any person can relate to. After all, death finds us all, eventually. ...more
M. Sarki

The accident of birth is just that. And so is everything that happens afterwards, or so it seems to me…

Cory Taylor died at age sixty in July of 2016, but not before finishing this important book that details her life beginning to end. The fact that new treatments and medicines now extend our dying to degrees unmanageable by some and put to good use by others serves the writer well. Cory Taylor deftly, and honestly, presents the history of herself as a chil
Joachim Stoop
Aug 11, 2019 rated it it was ok
The title should have been 'Living: a memoir' and the few pieces that actually were about dying were rather cliché than earth shattering or heart rending.
There are way better books on terminal illness and facing death. Read Marion Coutts, Paul Kalanithi or Julie Yip-Williams instead
Cass Moriarty
Apr 15, 2019 rated it it was amazing
Recently I interviewed Kat Mulheran, the owner of Bent Books, a second-hand bookstore in West End, and while wandering around afterwards, I picked up a copy of Cory Taylor’s book Dying: a memoir (Text Publishing 2016). It has been on my TBR list for ages, but the current personal circumstances of a friend meant this copy of the book called to me from the shelf, demanding that I pick it up, buy it, read it.
It is a slim volume. Author Cory Taylor speaks frankly and movingly about her approaching d
Andrew McMillen
Jun 08, 2016 rated it it was amazing
What do you do if you're dying slowly of a melanoma-related brain cancer? If you're a writer, like Brisbane-based Cory Taylor, you write a book about it, and all the rest of us can do is soak in the relentlessly true, beautiful and moving words that result. Structured around three long essays, Taylor writes of how her body has failed her since the initial diagnosis in 2005, just before her 50th birthday. While her once full life has since contracted to just two rooms – her bedroom and her living ...more
Nov 15, 2018 rated it it was amazing
My God this was stunning. Not just the cover (although it is one of the best) but Cory’s last memoir. I checked this one out of the library weeks ago and was putting off reading it (although I have been wanting to for awhile) because I read the first page and I didn’t know if I could stomach reading this heartbreaking book just yet. The cover kept calling me though and eventually I did and devoured in 2 short sittings. Australian writer Cory Taylor writes about dying of melanoma cancer. She pass ...more
Jul 05, 2016 rated it really liked it
Shelves: biography
'For what are we, if not a mind taking a body for a walk, just to see what's there? And, in the end, where do we get to, if not back to a beginning that we've never really left behind ... I am a girl and I am a dying woman. My body is my journey, the truest record of all I have done and seen, the site of all my joys and heartbreaks, of all my misapprehensions and blinding insights. If I feel the need to relive the journey it is all there written in runes on my body. Even my cells remember it, al ...more
Aug 02, 2017 rated it it was ok
Shelves: kindle
I hate giving this book 2 stars. I think my own expectations were way too high, and part of that was based on When Breath Becomes Air. I preordered this book after reading a review of it and read it in one day. But the book is banal. It is 98% memoir and 2% dying. The memoir is her rough childhood with almost no description of her adult life or her family or the effects of her diagnosis. I will be horribly honest and admit that I know what it's like to go through a rough childhood but I do not k ...more
Claire Fuller
I enjoyed this - can a book written by someone with a terminal illness be enjoyable? The first half is about her thoughts on what she's facing, and I found this very moving, and I was angry on her behalf that assisted dying is not an option. The alternatives, and what they would make her husband and two sons face, are terrible.
The second half was a more straightforward memoir about her dysfunctional family. This was interesting, but simply not what I was expecting.
Travel Writing
"But I'm used to dying now. It's become ordinary and unremarkable, something everybody, without exception, does at one time or another."

Cory Taylor writes with lightness and a gentleness that carries you right through the darkest and deepest reaches of her journey of dying.

She shares her story sparingly, deftly, with an ease that is beguiling and poignant.

A story of inexplicable grief and loss, a story with effervescent joy and a mother's love, a story of a dad who is seemingly a narcissist who
Jennifer (JC-S)
‘The fact that I was dying now was sad, but not tragic. I had lived a full life.’

At the age of sixty, Cory Taylor was dying of a melanoma-related brain cancer. Her cancer could no longer be treated, and death was inevitable. And so, she wrote this book. I imagine that every person who reads it comes away with something slightly different. For me, it’s Cory Taylor’s reflections on her life, and her observations about the deaths of her parents. So many echoes, too, in her thoughts about being able
Apr 04, 2017 rated it really liked it
I have had this on order from the library for many months but when it became available just weeks after my sister died I thought that it might prove too difficult a read for me at this time. How wrong I was! The memoir put my own grief in perspective and enabled me to find words for thoughts and feelings that had lain unexpressed. It was utterly compelling reading - honest, insightful and written so clearly to show the range of conflicting emotions and decisions someone feels when facing death. ...more
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Cory Taylor was born in 1955 and was an award-winning screenwriter who has also published short fiction and children’s books. Her first novel, Me and Mr Booker, won the Commonwealth Writers Prize (Pacific Region) and her second, My Beautiful Enemy, was shortlisted for the Miles Franklin Literary Award. Her final book was Dying: A Memoir.

Taylor was survived by her Japanese-born artist husband of 33

News & Interviews

  As dedicated readers already know, some of the best and most innovative stories on the shelves come from the constantly evolving realm of...
56 likes · 9 comments
“As we are enabled to live longer, we are also condemned to die longer.” 4 likes
“The short answer to the question of what I'll miss most is Shin, my husband of thirty-one years, and the faces of my children.
The long answer is the world and everything in it: wind, sun, rain, snow and all the rest.
And I will miss being around to see what happens next, how things turn out, whether my children's lives will prove as lucky as my own.”
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