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text 2019-01-22 05:51
Reading progress update: I've listened 357 out of 357 minutes.
I Am, I Am, I Am: Seventeen Brushes with Death - Maggie O'Farrell

The final story in the book dealt with something I actually have a bit of personal connection to: the author's daughter's severe allergies, which resulted in horrible eczema and, later, a risk of anaphylactic shock if she's exposed to the wrong thing.

 

My youngest niece has had eczema her whole life, for similar reasons, and there are times I think "she has never had a moment in her life when she was not itchy" and "I worry that she'll never have a non-itchy moment." She's six now. She worried about meeting other children because she thought they might think she looked like a mummy (my sister sometimes wraps her arms and hands in bandages). My sister and I both winced when she said she wanted to be a cowgirl when she grew up, brushing off the whole allergy thing as something you don't have as an adult (my sister has hoped that she'd grow out of her allergies, which she seems to have interpreted as "I will definitely grow out of them").

 

O'Farrell's experiences with doctors were very much like my sister's experiences with military doctors - one useless steroid cream prescription after another - although the main difference is that my sister knew to suspect allergies. She just couldn't get anyone to finally refer her baby to an allergist.

 

Unfortunately, O'Farrell switched back to second person (it at least seemed more appropriate this time around) and then went on and on. One thing that struck me, that had actually occurred to me back in a previous chapter, when O'Farrell wrote about her boyfriend admitting he'd cheated on her, was that, although the chapter was about her daughter's brush with death, O'Farrell kept turning the focus back to herself. Her own struggles with doctors, with finding something that could help her daughter's skin, her reaction to people's horror at seeing her baby. She even went back to before her daughter was born - the fertility treatments, her and her doctor's belief that they'd failed, and her surprise pregnancy.

 

In the chapter about her cheating boyfriend, she wrote about going to get tested for STDs, because who knows what her boyfriend might have given her. At the very end of the chapter, so quickly I almost missed it, she implied that the reason she'd invited a male friend of hers to come with her and get tested himself was because she suspected he had an STD himself (possibly AIDS?).

 

So anyway, I made it to the end. As I said in a previous update, this really would have been better if it had been article length. I'd say read the first story and quit there.

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text 2019-01-18 20:03
Reading progress update: I've listened 185 out of 357 minutes.
I Am, I Am, I Am: Seventeen Brushes with Death - Maggie O'Farrell

And now she's writing about herself in the third person. No, I don't know why.

 

This is the second or third "brush with death" that boils down to "I was almost hit by a car."

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text 2019-01-18 17:36
Reading progress update: I've listened 174 out of 357 minutes.
I Am, I Am, I Am: Seventeen Brushes with Death - Maggie O'Farrell

The current section highlights one of the issues I have with this book: the premise doesn't really hold together all the way through. It's like O'Farrell had two or three good autobiographical death-related stories she wanted to tell, but even she couldn't figure out how to spin them out enough to fill up an entire book, so she picked out a bunch of other stories as filler.

 

The title mentions seventeen brushes with death. To me, this makes it sound like the seventeen brushes with death are in some way significant, life changing moments for the author. And several of them are. But quite a few of them are just scary moments, the sort that might make a nice, quick, scary story to tell someone - "There was this time I almost drowned, OMG!" or "You know those shows where someone throws knives at a person while blind-folded? I was once the person who had knives thrown at them!" Except that O'Farrell writes about each one of these times as though they have roughly the same emotional weight as, say, her miscarriages or her encounter with the man who later murdered someone.

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text 2019-01-18 04:01
Reading progress update: I've listened 126 out of 357 minutes.
I Am, I Am, I Am: Seventeen Brushes with Death - Maggie O'Farrell

For some reason, O'Farrell is currently talking about her miscarriages. I'm not sure yet what this has to do with the title, unless she doesn't mean her own death this time.

 

This entire part is written in second-person present tense. I'm not sure what effect she's going for, but I find it distracting.

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text 2019-01-17 00:40
Reading progress update: I've listened 47 out of 357 minutes.
I Am, I Am, I Am: Seventeen Brushes with Death - Maggie O'Farrell

Second "brush with death": 16-year-old Maggie O'Farrell does something stupid and almost drowns to death. Meh.

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