Wednesday, September 30, 2009

the diving bell and the butterfly

to be honest, i didn't even know what a diving bell was. i just read this book, after coming across it at work and remembering very acutely how much i wanted to read it after i saw the film when it came out. i was so touched by this story, and by his conviction to write it, and the grace with which he wrote it... i think it's a real contemporary classic, a beautiful testament to the power of the human spirit under circumstances that we can barely begin to imagine. i recommend it to everyone. it's a fast read, but in it brevity is a deep-down soul, and the beauty of this memoir is extreme.

jean-dominique bauby, in the mid 1990s, was the editor-in-chief for french elle magazine. He suffered from a massive stroke which paralyzed almost his entire body, excepting his ability to swivel his head and use his right eye. he suffered from a neurological condition called "locked-in syndrome," in which he could think and interpret clearly, but his entire outer shell was useless and in constant pain. by merely blinking his eye to inidicate letters of the alphabet, caregivers and friends wrote down -- very slowly -- every word he wanted to write and compiled this memoir during his months at a hospital in northern france.

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