Kathye Fetsko's Reviews > The Diving Bell and the Butterfly

The Diving Bell and the Butterfly by Jean-Dominique Bauby
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it was amazing

** spoiler alert ** The first remarkable fact about this slim, 132-page book is that the author, Jean- Dominique Bauby, dictated it letter by letter by blinking his left eye-lid. This was Bauby's sole means of communication after having suffered a stroke which left him paralyzed from the top of his head down, a condition known as "locked-in syndrome." Save for the one eye motion and a few other subtle actions, Bauby was unable to move, to touch or feel touch, to eat or to speak.

But Bauby's mind remained intact, and there was much he wanted to say. In The Diving Bell and the Butterfly, he says it. Which leads to the second remarkable fact about this book: While the 43-year-old French magazine editor and father of two was deeply grieved by his tragic state and the loss of his former life, his memoir is not depressing. Instead, it is wryly humorous, full of joy and poetic detail, and life affirming. Trapped in the useless shell of his body (the "diving bell" of the book's title) Bauby's mind takes flight "like a butterfly," traveling, remembering, imagining, tasting.

"There is so much to do," he says.

What an amazing attitude.

There are many poignant moments. Here Bauby is visited by his ten-year-old boy: His face not two feet from mine, my son ...sits patiently waiting -- and I, his father, have lost the simple right to ruffle his bristly hair, clasp his downy neck, hug his small, lithe, warm body tight against me...."

This book is beautifully worded and each sentence --even the sad ones -- makes you want to celebrate every second you breathe. Posthumous, heartfelt thanks to Monsieur Bauby, who died 17 months after his "new life" began, and two days after Le Scaphandre et le Papillon -- the French version of his book -- appeared in print.

This review by Kathye Fetsko Petrie first appeared on The Compulsive Reader website (www.compulsivereader.com/html) and is archived at www.compulsivereader.com/html/index.p...
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Reading Progress

Started Reading
June 1, 2002 – Finished Reading
January 2, 2010 – Shelved

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