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Katie RoipheSontag's confrontation with her own ordinariness is the most intriguing element of Rieff's story. For a woman who had always believed in her own exceptionality, who had defined herself by her will to be different, to rise above, the terrifying democracy of illness is one of its most painful aspects…In the most profound and affecting passages of the book, Rieff questions whether, on some level, his mother thought that she was too special to die. He investigates the line between hubris and bravery, grandiosity and vitality.
—The New York Times