Thursday, June 14, 2007

Make a Place On Your Shelf,
In Your Life, for This Book .....

At one point in her book, "Take Off Your Party Dress," journalist Dina Rabinovitch estimates that the value of writing and publishing about her ongoing battle with cancer is worth only 10% the cost of the battle itself ..... "So my life," she suggests, "is worth ten times more than my thoughts on life."

In one respect - in the matter of pounds and shillings earned from one, compared to the pounds and shillings spent on the other - she's right.

But in another respect - less tangible, perhaps, but no less important - she is wrong. There is no calculator equal to the task of determining the value of the awareness Rabinovitch is raising over cancer-related issues ..... and the changes, the reforms that might emerge from that new, higher awareness.

Those efforts have included a regular column in
The Guardian, in which Rabinovitch documents a life dealing with cancer ..... the original pitch for that column, the initial reaction to the idea, and the ultimate decision on where to place it, provide Rabinovitch insight into where stories on breast cancer are ranked in the news hierarchy, and how decisions on that ranking might be made ..... "If one in nine men were losing their penises, you can bet this'd be an op-ed story," it is suggested. "In fact, it'd be a front-page story. Daily."

And those efforts now include this book, a copy of which was sent to me - free of charge - by Lee at
Lowebrow, on the condition that I blog about the book.

It is - at least, initially - not an easy read, especially during the summer, when many of us look for lighter diversions in our reading. I mean, who really wants to read about cancer while that recently-acquired thriller (in my case, "
The Queen of the South" by Arturo PĂ©rez-Reverte) is still sitting, unopened, on the shelf?

Adding to the difficulty - again, initially - was the style of Rabinovitch's narrative. But as I moved from page-to-page, and chapter-to-chapter, I couldn't help but think that the pace of her writing gave me some feel for the new pace of her life, a life that is now even busier with cancer and all that entails.

And it IS a story about life, and its importance ..... as the book's sub-title, "When Life's Too Busy For Breast Cancer," reminds us. Sure, cancer is the focus and the foundation of the book, but it is not the focus and the foundation of the author, who doesn't lose sight of her family, her faith and her career, as a calendar already filled with school programs and birthday parties, religious observances and interviews with subjects for her articles, must now make room for scans and surgeries, for chemotherapy and consultations with a growing pool of medical professionals.

It also deals with the 'culture' of cancer, addressing a wide array of related issues ..... how one looks and how one dresses, for example ..... how family members cope ..... how companies stand to make A LOT more money producing treatments for cancer, rather than finding a cure ..... and how the very word 'cancer' is defined in our dictionaries, and in our minds.

None of us have far to look - whether it's in ourselves, in a loved-one, in a distant family member or in a co-worker - to come into first-hand contact with cancer. It is something we should all know more about ..... but where do we turn? Do we try to translate articles in medical journals, or reports from government studies? Do we take a chance on God-only-knows-what we find on somebody's web page? Do we take the time - and expense - to schedule a consultation with our doctors, to just sit and talk about what's going on?

This book, I think, would be a good - no, an excellent! - first step.

* * * * *
Added note ..... Now that I've finished the book, I'm handing it off to fellow West Texas blogger Janie at
Sounding Forth. When she's finished with it, I'd like it to move on to another blogger ..... any takers? I'll pay for the postage, if it heads out of town/state/country/whatever. We'd like to get something started here, on the blogosphere.

Dina's fundraising page for England's Mount Vernon Cancer Centre
The 'Giving' Page for Texas' own MD Anderson Cancer Center


Unknown said...

Jeff, my book has already left England and is presently residing in Ireland. After this it is going to London. Each blogger is posting a review and sending it on, adding their name and site to the inside cover. It will be fascinating to see how far we can spread the word!

Jeff said...

Minx, thanks for stopping in, and for the update on your book chain - you already have more links in yours than I have in mine!

I REALLY liked your idea of adding messages inside the cover, and I plan to do the same.

Unknown said...

Jeff, this is exciting, I didn't realise there was to be a US part of the leg! Thanks for stopping by on the blog and letting me know.
Great review - isn't it amazing how different people pick up on different aspects of the book in this way?

Jeff said...

Barbara, thanks for stopping in.

As for one of the books now moving in the U.S., just the luck of the draw, really ..... I was one of the first three to respond to Lee's invitation, and Lee was kind enough to stand by her promise and send it to - nearly - the far side of the world.

Thank you for the kind words on my review ..... AND THE SAME TO YOU! (just finished reading your review) ..... the fact that different people pick up on different aspects of the book might be an indicator that there is something about the book - and its topic - with which we can all connect.

Cowtown Pattie said...

Hey, how did I miss out on the great circulating book bonanza?

What a great idea!

Jeff said...

Miss Pattie, thanks for stopping in. You could be next after Janie ..... maybe I could hand-deliver it to you this July, in Cowtown?