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The burly columnist has fully recovered from a "right pterinonal craniotomy with unruptured anterior communication artery aneurysm." A blood vessel in his brain was set to burst, quicker than a thought, at any time it chose. If not death, the event could have, for Breslin, triggered something worse. He could have lost all vocabulary and the ability to communicate. Happily, all is well inside the newsman's head. The evidence is this street-smart report from the purgatory of patienthood. On the armature of the life- threatening aneurysm, Breslin fleshes out a distinctive, funny memoir in the tones and syntax of the courtrooms and saloons of Brooklyn and Queens. It's a sage and cagey stream-of-consciousness flowing at extraordinary velocity. Here are family members as well as the likes of Lenny Bruce, Casey Stengel, and Marvin the Torch ("I build empty lots," said Marvin). In extremis, the remembrances of things past—the unhappy childhood, the stalking by Son of Sam, the bookmakers, gangsters, and ward heelers, the penury and proud achievements and the wonderment of life and love, no less—are covered in kaleidoscopic flashbacks. If it's occasionally disorderly, prideful, and cocky, it's always distinctive and often affecting. And the explicit depiction of the surgery, performed to the strains of Schubert's "Trout Quintet," is simply harrowing.
The Bard of the Boroughs is back with his accustomed wit in a chiaroscuro text that is more felicitous than the awkward title would hint.
Posted October 13, 2001
Every 'ologist should prescribe this book to any patient facing any major surgery. Breslin journeys from denial through deep fear of possibly ending up brain damaged to his eventual visit to the leading aneurysm surgeon of the day. This journey is funny and honest and frightening. Quite by coincidence, two years after buying this book, I was given a taste of the fear when I needed an MRI. Re-reading this book has strengthened me. It's not just for the afflicted however - as a memoir of his extraordinary life in newspapers it is highly entertaining. The characters and events which are meant only as the side show to the medical narrative are powerful, hilarious, poignant betimes.Was this review helpful? Yes NoThank you for your feedback. Report this reviewThank you, this review has been flagged.