I Had Brain Surgery, What's Your Excuse?: An Illustrated Memoir

I Had Brain Surgery, What's Your Excuse?: An Illustrated Memoir

by Suzy Becker
     
 

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Now in paperback, the ingenious illustrated memoir that is widely praised:

“Hilarious, hell-raising, and frequently heart-wrenching.” —Booklist

“[A] unique tragicomedy of a memoir . . . The author is so likable, even in her darkest hour, that as you applaud her recovery you also realize you’ll miss looking after her

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Overview

Now in paperback, the ingenious illustrated memoir that is widely praised:

“Hilarious, hell-raising, and frequently heart-wrenching.” —Booklist

“[A] unique tragicomedy of a memoir . . . The author is so likable, even in her darkest hour, that as you applaud her recovery you also realize you’ll miss looking after her.” —Entertainment Weekly (“A” rating)

“Compelling reading . . . Becker has turned one person’s experience into a universal story of family, healing, and the return to creativity.” —Library Journal (starred review)

“A wonderful book, funny and touching, harrowing and sweet.” —Anne Lamott, author of Bird by Bird

For years Suzy Becker, author of the New York Times bestseller All I Need to Know I Learned from My Cat (1.7 million copies in print), literally lived by her wits. Then brain surgery left her temporarily unable to speak, read, or write. I Had Brain Surgery, What's Your Excuse? is a story that grapples with the question “What makes me me?” By turns philosophical and whimsical, rivetingly dramatic and unexpectedly light, it is illustrated with drawings, charts, pseudoserious graphs, real EEGs. The result is a book filled with insights into creativity, identity, love, relationships, family, and that intangible something that gives each of us our spark.

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Editorial Reviews

Booklist
“Hilarious, hell-raising ,and frequently heart-wrenching.”
Booklist
Entertainment Weekly
“[A] unique tragicomedy of a memoir . . . The author is so likable, even in her darkest hour, that as you applaud her recovery you also realize you’ll miss looking after her.”
Entertainment Weekly (Editor’s Choice, ‘A’)
From the Publisher
“[A] unique tragicomedy of a memoir . . . The author is so likable, even in her darkest hour, that as you applaud her recovery you also realize you’ll miss looking after her.”
Entertainment Weekly (Editor’s Choice, ‘A’)
Publishers Weekly
Cartoonist and writer Becker (All I Need to Know I Learned from My Cat) sloughed off her repeated seizures as stress-related and lived with the strangeness of periodic episodes for three and half years, until a friend witnessed an attack in May 1999. Becker finally sought medical testing and underwent brain surgery. Her memoir loosely brackets the year around her procedure, from the initial diagnosis to the long, slow recovery, when unpredicted side effects interfered with her speech and even her thought processes. As Becker's healing slogs along at a snail's pace, she wonders, "Up until now, I didn't know things were missing until I went looking for them.... What about the things I don't think to look for?" Such problems assailed the essence of Becker's talents for being funny and easily expressing herself through words and drawing. Her struggle to recuperate has a profound effect on relationships and changes her own expectations about being a friend, lover and family member. As anyone might, Becker asks herself, "What if my life is a life I don't want to live?" But with the help of others and her slowly returning sense of humor, she eventually recreates a life she recognizes as her own, one in which she even completes a strenuous AIDS fund-raising bike ride and begins a competitive writing fellowship. Becker's deeply personal and surprisingly funny account intersperses text with such whimsical additions as Becker's "Cardiac Exercise Tolerance" and kooky cartoons. (Mar.) Forecast: A 20-city author tour and a national marketing campaign will draw in fans of Becker's previous work. Copyright 2004 Reed Business Information.
Library Journal
A best-selling author (All I Need To Know I Learned from My Cat), artist, and entrepreneur, Becker was also a 1993-94 White House Fellow and a 1999-2000 Bunting Fellow at Radcliffe. During much of her time at the latter, she was suffering seizures but didn't tell anyone until a friend witnessed an incident. Eventually, she was scheduled for brain surgery to remove a tumor. Writing with the dry sense of humor that some of us rely on to make it through tough situations, Becker recalls her reactions to her medical problems, from liking the first doctor who gave her no bad news ("just stress") to the terror of the eventual diagnosis. Her descriptions of the surgery and its dreadful, but temporary, effects on her ability to speak, read, write, and draw make for especially compelling reading. But Becker's memoir is also about triumphs: a 500-mile bike-a-thon, the recovery of her speech, her return to drawing, and, oh yes, the Bunting Fellowship, which gave birth to this book. Illustrating her text with drawings, charts, newspaper clippings, wacky graphs, and a cartoon alter ego named Augusta, Becker has turned one person's experience into a universal story of family, healing, and the return to creativity. Highly recommended for all collections.-Mary Nickum, Ivins, UT Copyright 2004 Reed Business Information.

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Product Details

ISBN-13:
9780761139799
Publisher:
Workman Publishing Company, Inc.
Publication date:
08/15/2005
Edition description:
Readers Guide Included
Pages:
256
Sales rank:
736,125
Product dimensions:
5.94(w) x 7.96(h) x 0.81(d)

Read an Excerpt

Pre—Chapter One
P R O C R A S T I N A T I O N

TERRY GROSS (host of National Public Radio’s Fresh Air): My guest is
Suzy Becker, author of I Had Brain Surgery, What’s Your Excuse? She is also the author of three other books, including All I Need to Know I
Learned from My Cat
, an international bestseller in the 1990s. Suzy,
in addition to being a writer, you are a small-business owner, teacher—

ME: Was.

TG: —AIDS bike-a-thon organizer. Writing’s not exactly a sideline, but your life isn’t the quiet, contemplative writer’s life some might imagine . . .
ME: I discovered writing at the end of my career as a cat whisperer—

TG: There’s nothing about that in your bio.

I made it up—I’m making the whole thing up. It’s a form of procrastination, I
guess—making up interviews with myself on National Public Radio when I
should be working on my book.

TG: I’m going to disappoint a lot of listeners when I admit I was not a fan of your cat book—I’m not a cat person or a big fan of gift books in general, or whatever they call that genre. Your new book is altogether different, not an All I Need to Know I Learned from My CAT
Scan
. . .
ME: It still makes a nice gift—[wait, she should say that.]

TG: It’s nonfiction, very personal, a memoir of sorts. . . . People may think, brain surgery—who wants to read about that?! I wanted to tell you—I could relate to so much of what you wrote about and I
haven’t even had brain surgery! [We laugh.] You actually began working on this book while you were still recovering, is that correct?

ME: That draft ended up being more like notes than a book.

TG: I’m curious, at what point did you know—when the neurosurgeon told you you had a tumor and you were going to need brain surgery—
devastating news for most of us—as a writer, was there some little part of you that said, “I’m going to get a book out of this”?

ME: Terry, I’m a writer, not an alien. [I AM an alien. Writers don’t waste valuable writing time making up interviews.] I was devastated by the
\ news. As a writer, I think I knew I’d write about it as a way to record the experience, maybe get some perspective, but . . .

TG: So, you were this perfectly healthy person: You were—I should say are athletic, you play volleyball, do these biking marathons, then in
May of ’99 you have a seizure. . . .

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