Wednesday, July 06, 2016

What I'm Reading #91

I just finished "When Breath Becomes Air". I saved the last 50 pages for a quiet space. It's the story of Neurosurgeon, Paul Kalanithi's rise to becoming one of the Pre-eminent doctor's in the field to his untimely diagnosis of lung cancer and his decline to a death as a young man. With decrees in English literature proceeding his entry into medicine, he was uniquely positioned to tell his story with uncanny skill, a surgeon's skill. It is written in a stream of consciousness style that you come to realize feels more like an epic poem than a chronological narrative. The theme that propelled Paul into med school was his desire to understand the meaning of life at a level that literature left him unsatisfied with, and he carries it well throughout the memoir. However, I came to see his message of meaning in a spiral that repeated itself time and again however beautifully and with what new anecdote he had chosen to preserve. At only one point did he leave me confused. Toward the very end of his story when he engaged in a discussion of metaphysical realties pitting religion against science. He seemed to be unable to see that there isn't a dichotomy between them in discovering meaning in the universe and this disappointed me a little bit for his sake. In the end the end is left to his wife Lucy to tie up in an epilogue of her own. Beautiful book, I only wish there had never been a reason for it to have been written.

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