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On Smaller Dogs and Larger Life Questions

4.23  ·  Rating details ·  26 ratings  ·  5 reviews
Coming up to her sixtieth birthday, Kate Figes found herself turning to the larger questions of family, love and life's meaning. It is like this author to examine different stages in writing, and her books - from new motherhood and adolescence to coupledom and infidelity - testify to this way of understanding herself and others: so naturally she turned to writing to ...more
Kindle Edition, 192 pages
Published February 28th 2018 by Virago
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Rebecca
It was hard to resist such a great title, especially with my penchant for cancer memoirs. In nine chapters that are almost like linked essays, Kate Figes reflects on the changes that a diagnosis of triple-negative, metastasized breast cancer has wrought in her life. However, like Vesna Goldsworthy’s Chernobyl Strawberries, the book sets the cancer experience within a wider life story of trauma and displacement. In the first essay, as Figes, a freelance nonfiction writer, approached age 60, she ...more
Wendy Greenberg
Mar 04, 2018 rated it really liked it
I found this a really intriguing, thoughtful read. I was, however, struck by how hard I had to work to separate out my own similar experience (different cancer but same progress/process...same age, same late diagnosis) from the narrative. We all "do" illness differently but Figes' journey resonated more than many others I have read/heard.

It pressed a load of buttons for me and found the author's telling bridged the line so delicately between emotion and "events" without dissembling. A very
...more
Catullus2
Dec 30, 2019 rated it liked it
I ordered this book after reading the author’s obituary in the NYT. Figes started writing a book about midlife and then got blindsided by a cancer diagnosis so the book is about both midlife and cancer. She writes well and I particularly enjoyed the chapters on the beach hut and home. I found it to be a cautionary tale about the alternative therapy industry. I think those practitioners should be held accountable for their “advice”.
Mary Karpel-Jergic
Mar 15, 2018 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: death, health, medicine, memoir
An astonishingly good read. The author grapples with many thoughts and feelings subsequent to a cancer diagnosis. I found her writing to be exceptionally fluid in style and pace. Hugely personal, it is one woman's fight for her life but it has universal appeal because of its resonance to the human condition.

Competing thoughts juggle for dominance; sadness at leaving her family, feeling like an alien has taken over her body, a desire to adapt, an abundance of memories, some of which haunt her,
...more
Bex
Dec 02, 2019 rated it really liked it
Despite the age difference, a lot of the experience in this book resonated with me - trying to get on with life with the unknown’ hanging over your head - when will the cancer come back, how far/fast will it spread, have I got months or years? I found it very readable ... I struggled a bit with the emphasis on positivity (I think we need more space to grieve, but also, yes, we don’t want to get stuck), and the focus on herbal etc remedies (which the author says she knows many people will ...more
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