I Am, I Am, I Am: Seventeen Brushes with Death
I Am, I Am, I Am is Maggie O'Farrell's astonishing memoir of the near-death experiences that have punctuated and defined her life. The childhood illness that left her bedridden for a year, which she was not expected to survive. A teenage yearning to escape that nearly ended in disaster. An e ...more
"'Salt water?' I asked him.
"'Yes,' he said, 'in one way or the other. Sweat, or te…more“‘Why, yes,' he said, 'I know of a cure for everything: salt water.'
"'Salt water?' I asked him.
"'Yes,' he said, 'in one way or the other. Sweat, or tears, or the salt sea.'
~Seven Gothic Tales(less)
I have read three of her novels and count Maggie O’Farrell as one of my favorite writers and I know I have to get to those that I haven’t read. This memoir is as beautifully written as her novels. O’Farrell shares with us some very personal experiences, memories of times in her life when she was in danger, close to death. As in her novels, she had me feeling and thinking about the complexities of life, sometimes the danger that lies near all of us. While she writes about things that happened to ...more
Dear Maggie O’Farrell,
I’m bouncing high, zigzagging through your 17 brushes with death. Barefoot because my socks were knocked off. I can’t stop! Yep, I’m downright manic! What an amazing memoir you wrote! One of the best books I’ve read this year!
I am I am I am absolutely in love with your book. I can’t help it that I’m stuttering. It’s that or remain speechless, which isn’t my style.
My brain is on fire! Matchy-matchy: My head, your language. Oh, your tone! The way ...more
At the time, I gaze up at the sky, the birds, the fast-moving clouds, and I am thinking about the dense forest behind us, about how I do not want to be dragged in there, not at all. I do not want to see the trees closing over my head, feel the scratch and pluck of bushes against my skin, my clothes, the cold damp of the ground in there. My thoughts are very simple. They pulse through my head: let me g ...more
I tend to retreat to my standard 3 star rating.
I didn’t equally ‘enjoy’ each story in this collection -
It’s a mix collection for me.
A few stories felt embellished.
In the middle of the book - I started to feel as if I had enough. A couple of the stories felt a little narcissistic—
....but then I felt sad for Maggie’s sick child - heck I felt awful for Maggie, too, when ‘she’ was a child in the hospita ...more
One day early in February, we had a rare day of sun and sixty degrees after having just endured subzero temperatures the week before… brrr! I could not get my sneakers on fast enough. I ran out the door without a jacket to get a little fresh air and exercise. Now, I very rarely listen to audiobooks. Don’t get me wrong, ...more
How difficult it is to write a text about a memoir...No matter if you liked it or not, no matter whether you shared the writer’s views or not, a memoir is a testament of someone’s heart and soul and how can anyone dissect it so light-heartedly? This memoir by Maggie O’Farrell is one of the most poignant, power ...more
Honest and open are the two words I thought of while reading this. The things she shares, private moments, secrets she had held close, but now share. Yet, it her experiences with motherhood that ...more
Told through 17 near death experiences that the author experienced throughout her life, you find yourself reading with bated breath as O Farrell draws you in with words and descriptions that make the reading experience very real and poignant.
At O’Farrell’s near-catastrophic ...more
At first blush, the way O’Farrell has chosen to organize her memoir is odd. Each chapter is focused on a near death experience. The chapters are out of chronological order. And while each chapter deals with a particular experience, it meanders to many other parts of O’Far ...more
"We are, all of us, wandering about in a state of oblivion, borrowing our time, seizing our days, escaping our fates, slipping through loopholes, unaware of when the axe may fall.”
This is the memoir of Maggie O'Farrel documenting the near bushes of death that have been riddled through out her life. Each chapter introduces a different time and age of the author and her experiences grazing near to death. We are witness to the encounters with death that the author has endured, for example; nea ...more
As with any essay collection, some of the stories resonated with me more than others but they are all beau ...more
Some of the occurrences detailed in the book felt like a stretch to classify as “near death” (to me, anyway) yet as with any memoir, I understand experiences are deeply personal. In particular, I found the chapters about O ...more
I am not a lover of memoirs in general, but
I am glad to have read this one.
I am returning to the dark side now.
Probably the single thing I most disliked in this book was the author's wri ...more
“I still cannot bear anyone to touch my neck: not my husband, not my children, not a kindly doctor, who once wanted to check my tonsils. I flinch away before I even register why.”
This is from the first chapter, “Neck – 1990”, which is when she was 18 or so. There are 17 chapters, each titled with a part of the body and a year, ranging from 1975, when she was three, to today.
She introduces the book with this quotation from Sylvia Plath:
I took a deep breath and listened to the old...more
brag of my h
I love the framing of this memoir: Maggie O’Farrell tells her story as a series of essays, each concentrating on a near death experience. I do like memoirs that play with format and I enjoyed the unchronological ...more
Some stories will break your heart, some will make you question her choices, and a couple others will absolutely give you the creeps....like OMG, the man on the path in the woods. Maggie used her head and saved her own bacon in this one!
An escapologist as a child, a risk taker and traveler as an adult, I am, I am, I am, tells...more
”Is this your life?” She asks.
“It’s not......it’s just......snatches of a life. A string of moments. Some chapters will be long. Others might be really short.”
The chapters are at times terrifying and at other times heart breaking. These short snippets of a life give an insight into the personal life of Maggie O’Farrell and really show the reader who she is.
O’Farrell shows us that real people, just like you and I, ...more
It was excellent on many levels. One was the relative uniqueness of the memoir — we learned about interesting aspects of Maggie O’Farrell’s life via 17 near-death experiences. I remember when first coming across a GR review of this book the reviewer listed a number of near-death experiences of his. And I immediately thought of near-death experiences in my own personal life. I would think most people have had close encounters with death or if not death a catastrophe. ...more
- The nonlinear narrative structure – the seventeen chapters, the eponymous "seventeen brushes with death", are told non-chronologically, all covering a certain point in Maggie O'Farrell's life spanning from early childhood until now. It was never confusing to read, but made for an interesting and wholly original account of a life.
- The writing style, which I fell in love with from page one. It's absolutely beautiful written wi ...more
And you know that you can trust her
For she's touched your perfect body with her mind”
-- Suzanne, Leonard Cohen, Songwriters: Leonard Cohen
When I saw that this book was one of the choices in the Best Book of the Year awards for goodreads, I wanted to squeeze this one in today, and I’m so glad that I did. A brilliant memoir that doesn’t really read like a memoir, the writing is her standard beautiful, brutally honest, somewhat bare-bon ...more
Maggie O'Farrell cleverly uses her near death experiences as a sort of bench marker for her life and as a catalyst to veer into other aspects ranging from her family, to her childhood, to her romantic relationships in order to paint a much larger picture of her life as a whole.
This book is really captivating and descriptively written as every near death experience leaves you with a range of emotions. I found the first chapter (about meeting a deadly stranger in the middle of desolate ...more
At first I was really annoyed with this book as I thought that it was about the author having almost died 17 times. It is not. Most of the instances she writes about are normal and frequent occurrences -- she "could" have been hit by a car as a child, she "could" have died in childbirth if she was living in a ti ...more
"I took a deep breath and listened to the old brag of my heart. I am, I am, I am."—Sylvia Plath, The Bell Jar
I thoroughly enjoyed this unique take on a memoir! I've never read any of O'Farrell's books, and I'm so glad I started here. O'Farrell recalls seventeen close brushes with death at various points in her life, dividing each chapter into both year and organ(s) that was endangered.
The writing was so compelling and the language beautiful, that I could have easily read this in one sitting ...more
I did not like the switching from first person to third person narrative or the way the sporadic timeline, which at times felt linear and then suddenly wasn’t.
However, I was captivated by the interesting and terrifying brushes with death the author has experienced. Some were small, and some were so crazy that most people will never encounter (I.e. the serial killer story). I also related to her exp ...more
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