Lipsyte, a veteran sportswriter and city columnist for the Times, is also a cancer patient. In his signature voice -- clear-headed and stringent -- he takes us where we least want to go (the examining room, the hospital ward), and he manages not merely to devise adult strategies of sanity but also to tell the story of almost dying (or surviving for now) with pitiless wit. Here is a narrator who doesn't beg for admiration but earns it all the same.
New York Times columnist Lipsyte compares having a serious illness or caring for someone who is sick to taking a trip to a country called Malady. He knows it well. Twenty years ago, Lipsyte was diagnosed with testicular cancer; the next year his wife was diagnosed with breast cancer; two years later they both had recurrences. 'Cancer is a tough act to follow, even if it only roughs you up a little,' he writes. This is a gripping and compelling human tale with practical advice on how to cope in this foreign land. Here, a patient learns to deal with a new language, potential diagnosis and treatment errors, rude clerks, patronizing residents, and doctors making appointments for their own convenience while ignoring pain and anxiety -- not to mention insurance and managed care companies. Travelers to Malady will profit from Lipsyte's vade mecum. -- James Swanton, Harlem Hospital Library, New York
The author guides readers through the country of illness, a land with its own customs and power structure. He draws on his own and family members' experiences with cancer and the experiences of those he has met on his beat as a journalist, and offers advice on dealing with doctors and hospital staff, understanding hospitalspeak, and handling health insurance matters. He offers humor and optimism and encourages celebrating progress at every stage. Annotation c. by Book News, Inc., Portland, Or.
A New York Times columnist's witty guide to that planet of pain that we must sometimes orbit or visitthe world of serious illness or, as Lipsyte calls it, Malady. Sportswriter and journalist Lipsyte's style is more powerful here than in his co-authored Idols of the Game (1995). Sports, in fact, provides a good ongoing metaphor to the gallows humor (dubbed 'tumor humor') that makes this account of Lipsyte's testicular cancer such a good read. On one fearful team, so goes his story, are the patients, who wear funny green uniforms that tie in the back and leave their bottoms sticking out. However, players on the confident 'home team' don the bright colors of doctors, nurses, aides, and support staff.
Lipsyte is happiest with the 'jock surgeons' who want to battle the enemy with their blades. 'None can beat [this type of surgeon] for sheer glamor,' he insists. More cautious doctors, no matter their 'game face[s],' are too much like quarterbacks, he grouses. Lipsyte contrives a more extended metaphor to cover the 'Cancer Couple,'himself and his wife: They're roving a foreign land, ushered
'into the country of illness.'
Any deadly malady will provide the passport to this place, where caregivers speak a foreign language and seem to take delight in confounding the vulnerable tourist with cascades of daunting verbal gobbledygook. The 'medtechs' screw up often; student doctors are there for the mocking. Cancer conditions may in fact exist only to offer false hope. And chemotherapy treatments are like the schoolyard bullies whom the author once feared yet outlasted.
Lipsyte's insights into the effects of severe illness on one's friends and family are also sharp. No bibliography is needed; the author seems to discuss all the better books on medical topics.