For every copy of “You Mean, Besides the Cancer?” sold between April 11 and April 15, I will donate five dollars to cancer research through the American Cancer Society. Forward your receipt for the book to blackfire9786 (at) gmail (dot) com.
This book was provided to me free of charge by the author or publisher in exchange for an honest review. This review may be quoted in part or full without my express permission as long as “Writer’s Block Party” or “Lisa Taylor” is given credit, and a link back to this post is provided.
This is truly a unique book, and despite a few personal misgivings, I’m honored to be a part of revealing it to the public.
“You Mean, Besides the Cancer?” Is a creative non-fiction book set up as a series of blog posts written by Bob Marcotte throughout his wife’s battle with a very unique type of cancer. Whether the book is actually a compilation of posts or not is never explicitly stated, but it seems completely genuine. It is so well organized that the reader is never left confused or looking for a post they missed, and yet it reads like the very personal, private blog of a man going through (as he often calls it) hell.
The author, also a photographer, adds in powerful photographs at just the right places. Black and white images of personal mementos, scenes from daily life, hospitals, his wife, etc. accompany many of the posts and add a very poignant and personal touch. Really, the set up is just awesome; and the look and feel of a personal blog made it easy to ignore the occasional run on sentence or infraction of grammar rules. The author also uses the occasional quote or poem in just the right places. As he mentions at one point in the book, I believe Bob Marcotte truly has the heart of an artist.
That same “heart of an artist” feel, at least for me personally, helped the book in some ways and hurt it in others. Like I said – the set up was great, the concept, scheme and execution are great. But, being a person who has throughout her life been called “Machiavellian,” “mean,” and “sociopathic” (okay, the last one was an exaggeration), I tend to be uncomfortable with extremely emotional personalities, and Bob is just that.
The book does move through Carole’s story at a decent pace, but in between events there is a bit of time devoted to descriptions of the same day by day frustration and misery that Bob and his wife went through. And I’m sure it’s completely accurate, and very well placed artistically, because these cover the periods of time when Bob and his wife were forced to wait in limbo for answers. But a few times I found myself thinking “you’ve said that before, I know you’re frustrated, I know you can’t sleep,” or “It’s not really fair to comment on incompetence or unfairness in a certain profession when you have never worked it and don’t know the inside intricacies it takes to run said profession.”
And would you expect anything less? Since when does accuracy or consideration of the “big picture” have a place in something so personally emotional? It doesn’t – which is why it makes me uncomfortable. Despite that, and maybe even because of that, I’m glad I read this book. It’s good for us to move out of our comfort zone as readers, and by knowing the reasons for my discomfort I was still able to make a personal connection by reading Bob’s story, even if it wasn’t as personal to me as most other readers describe.
I will say this though; in this particular case, I am the exception and not the rule. Let’s face it, most people LIKE emotion, and will want to take both Bob and Carole into their arms and cry with them; which they will, in a way, by crying into the book. I read a study not too long ago related to music that talked about why people love songs that make them sad as much as songs that make them happy. You’d think people would avoid things that make them sad, but in fact we love things that instigate a strong emotional response, regardless of the emotion. That said, most people will LOVE this book, because unless you’re a total hardass, it will break your heart.
There are a few groups of people that I think will benefit even more than most from reading this book:
– Anyone who has dealt with cancer, or loved someone dealing with cancer. You may find a kindred spirit, or at least kind commiseration in these pages.
– Anyone who has a spouse or significant other who they love more than anything. This book may very well show you those little things you take for granted, and help you appreciate your loved one even more. You never know when something like this may hit your family.
– Anyone in the medical profession. Honestly, I think this book should be required reading in medical school. Regardless of accuracy or logic, medical students, this is how many of your patients will feel and this is what they will be going through. You should know it ahead of time.
Now, there’s my review. But this book hits on a much larger issue than just Bob and Carole’s story. Cancer is one of the leading causes of death and certainly a cause of intense suffering around the world – so, For every copy you buy of “You Mean, Besides the Cancer?” I will donate five dollars to cancer research through the American Cancer Society in honor of Carole Marcotte.
If you buy a copy of Bob’s book, please forward the invoice receipt that you receive via email to Blackfire9786 (at) gmail (dot) com. For every receipt I receive between the dates April 11 and April 15, I will donate five dollars. Find out how many people have purchased this book and helped the cause by checking the counter on my sidebar. I also encourage my readers to donate to cancer research or other causes they support. It doesn’t have to be much…a few dollars from a lot of people can make a huge difference 🙂