Cancer Made Me a Shallower Person: A Memoir in Comics

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9780060789732: Cancer Made Me a Shallower Person: A Memoir in Comics
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a cartoonist examines her experience with breast cancer in an irreverent and humorous graphic memoir.

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About the Author:

Miriam Engelberg was forty-three when she was diagnosed with breast cancer. Like anyone faced with a life-altering personal trauma, she sought out a coping mechanism. While fellow patients championed the benefits of support groups and hypnotherapy, Engelberg found her greatest comfort in drawing, her lifelong passion.

Cancer Made Me a Shallower Person puts Engelberg's life in focus the best way she knows how -- with cartoons. Her graphic approach to a very serious subject follows in the tradition of Art Spiegelman's award-winning Maus, but in her own offbeat, on-target, and darkly, devastatingly humorous style. From sex and wigs to nausea and causes -- Was it overzealous cheese consumption or not enough multivitamins? -- Engelberg leaves no aspect of cancer unexamined. In this remarkable "memoir in comics," she takes a clear-eyed, deliciously sardonic look at caring friends and relatives, doctors, treatments, and support groups while never losing her guarded optimism and, most important, her sense of humor.

From Publishers Weekly:

Stricken with breast cancer at a disturbingly young age (43), Engelberg turned to cartooning to cope; the resulting work is both powerful and very funny. She starts at the very beginning, while awaiting her diagnosis. The story follows the cancer trail all the way through surgery, chemo, support groups, wigs, the distraction of cartooning, moving house while completely nauseated and the horror of a second diagnosis. In contrast to the heavy subject matter, Engelberg's artwork is naïve to the extreme, though it has some charm. The true strength of the book is its fusion of the deadly serious with the absurd, in the finest tradition of black humor. Engelberg's narrative is riveting. She traces the trajectory of both her diagnosis and her growing obsession with the crossword puzzle in the newspaper's TV guide—"must...avoid...inner...thought... processes," she announces. The reader discovers the author's difficulties in appreciating life's special moments, and witnesses the many compliments she receives on her post-chemo wig. We follow the way the medical profession communicates, the things people say when they don't know what to say and the utter incomprehensibility of not knowing if you're documenting your own slow death. It's extremely honest and extraordinarily powerful. (May)
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