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review 2015-07-11 20:54
The Diving Bell & The Butterfly by Jean-Dominique Bauby
The Diving Bell and the Butterfly: A Memoir of Life in Death by Jean-Dominique Bauby 1st (first) Edition [Hardcover(1997/5/13)] - Jean-Dominique Bauby

In  1995, Jean-Dominique Bauby suffered a stroke to the brainstem. This left him with locked-in syndrome. Basically, all his mental faculties were functioning but his body was not. He had a functioning left eye and, with physical therapy, eventually could shake his head a bit and move his tongue enough to swallow food and utter a few sounds.

Using eye blinks, Bauby could indicate one letter at a time to a person holding up a placard of the alphabet (modified to have most common used letters first). In this manner, he dictated this book, which is a collection of short chapters about his life before and after the stroke. I can only imagine the patience it took for him  to compose this book and then eyeblink it out to a transcriber. On the other hand, it was probably a little bit of a relief to have such a goal.

This book is a fascinating look into the life of Bauby. Much of it is serious and poignant, though there are moments of amusement and tenderness. It was very interesting to see what he found of importance when so much had been stripped from him. As the reader, you don’t learn the circumstances of his life in which the stroke struck until the very end. Of course, you can always cheat and go read the wikipedia entry, but I think this book has much more impact.

This is one of those books that is pretty short and yet gives the reader much to think on. While I was reading it, I kept wanting to transport Bauby forward in time to a period where the technology could immerse his mind in a virtual world, if not repair the brainstem. If the entertainment industry doesn’t drive us to total immersive virtual worlds, then locked-in syndrome should!

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review 2015-06-20 22:22
Sleepyhead - Mark Billingham
Sleepyhead - Mark Billingham

Detective Inspector Tom Thorne now knows that three murdered young women were a killer's mistakes -- and that Alison was his triumph. And unless Thorne can enter the mind of a brilliant madman -- a frighteningly elusive fiend who enjoys toying with the police as much as he savors his sick obsession -- Alison Willetts will not be the last victim consigned forever to a hideous waking hell.

Already an international bestseller, Mark Billingham's "Sleepyhead" is a chilling masterwork of crime fiction -- a boldly original experiment in terror that will beget dark dreams and sleepless nights.


What I loved about this one was the characterisation. Thorne, Anne, Jeremy, Rachel, and especially Alison, oh God Alison, are all beautifully written and fully three-dimensional - and not only that, they're original, and unique. OK maybe not so much Thorne when it comes to unique, to be be fair, but the supporting cast here are so strong that it doesn't matter. 


The terror of what he's setting out to do to these women is so unusual, and so unthinkable  - and Alison's reaction is illuminating and encouraging and heartbreaking all at the same time.


What didn't work too well for me was the ending, and the way in which the motivation behind everything was explained, which took away a lot from the experience. I also felt that the final actions of two incredibly strong women showed a sense of helplessness that detracted from the hope I felt whilst reading. The second point is a very personal one, and I can understand that many readers might have the very opposite reaction. The author's note at the end grated on me too. I'm pretty sure his NHS remarks were implicit and understood and needed no further explanation. But again that's just me.


Sleepyhead is a fast, thought-provoking read which for me lost out at the close, but I'd still be happy to read more in the series.

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review 2013-09-21 00:00
The Diving Bell and the Butterfly
The Diving Bell And The Butterfly - Jean-Dominique Bauby

Aunque ciertamente el libro sería mucho menos poderoso si no se considerada el método con el cuál fue escrito y la historia del autor, eso no significa que perdería todo su mérito si así fuera.


El narrador no es particularmente agradable y por momentos es terriblemente chocante. Quizá lo realmente relevante del asunto es ver cómo el cambio que uno espera en un paciente así no es exactamente el que ocurrió: su personalidad, sus defectos, su chocantería siguen ahí;. Pero la gracia está en que mediante la forma de escribir nos obliga a tener presente los dos lados del personaje: uno es el que conocemos de su vida pasada y el otro trae la perspectiva que nos da su accidente y lo que ocurrió después, lo que siente, lo que desea y extraña.


Creo que a lo largo del libro siempre consideré ambos lados de la historia y la yuxtaposición era bastante interesante. Me parece que lo hubiera sido aún si todo fuera ficción. 




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