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The Day My Brain Exploded: A True Story
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The Day My Brain Exploded: A True Story

4.5 10
by Ashok Rajamani

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After a full-throttle brain bleed at the age of twenty-five, Ashok Rajamani, a first-generation Indian American, had to relearn everything: how to eat, how to walk and to speak, even things as basic as his sexual orientation. With humor and insight, he describes the events of that day (his brain exploded just before his brother's wedding!), as well as the long,


After a full-throttle brain bleed at the age of twenty-five, Ashok Rajamani, a first-generation Indian American, had to relearn everything: how to eat, how to walk and to speak, even things as basic as his sexual orientation. With humor and insight, he describes the events of that day (his brain exploded just before his brother's wedding!), as well as the long, difficult recovery period. In the process, he introduces readers to his family--his principal support group, as well as a constant source of frustration and amazement. Irreverent, coruscating, angry, at times shocking, but always revelatory, his memoir takes the reader into unfamiliar territory, much like the experience Alice had when she fell down the rabbit hole. That he lived to tell the story is miraculous; that he tells it with such aplomb is simply remarkable.More than a decade later he has finally reestablished a productive artistic life for himself, still dealing with the effects of his injury--life-long half-blindness and epilepsy-- but forging ahead as a survivor dedicated to helping others who have suffered a similar catastrophe.

Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly
First-time author Rajamani delivers a fascinating look at his life and his recovery as a brain-injury patient that is both heartbreaking and uplifting. In 2000, Rajamani was a 25-year-old first-generation Indian-American living the dream as well as living on the edge: a rising star in the competitive world of New York City public relations as well as a full-blown alcoholic who arrives “volcanically trashed” for a major job interview and is still “hired on the spot.” Only a week after he is hired, his life changes entirely after he suffers a massive brain hemorrhage caused by AVM, or arteriovenous malformation—a congenital birth defect in which “a tangle of veins and arteries hidden within the brain” suddenly bursts, causing the brain to bleed and flooding the head with septic fluid. Rajamani expertly details his injury (“My brain had become, simply, a liquid mess”) and its treatment, describing procedures such as a ventriculostomy, “an operation in which they drilled holes in the skull and insert tiny plastic tubes, also called ventrics, to drain the fluid.” Rajamani describes how he recovers with the help of his family and an extended support group of brain-injury survivors, and discovers that “even though I face epilepsy and multiple functional defects in my sight, hearing and memory, I’ve become more at peace, finding a new kind of harmony with the world.” (Jan.)
Kirkus Reviews
Barely surviving a cerebral hemorrhage gives the author a new perspective on life. Set to attend his brother's wedding, Rajamani experienced a subarachnoid intracranial cerebral hemorrhage while masturbating before the ceremony. This provides the sole unexpected moment of this memoir, which traffics heavily in clichés and a conversational tone that disserves the challenges of recovery. The narrative jumps back and forth, juxtaposing anecdotes about growing up as a bookish Indian-American with chapters on the days and weeks following the hemorrhage. Taken individually, the chapters are hit-or-miss; while some tie back into the challenges of recovery, others provide unrelated background on the author's childhood, adolescence and his fast climb up the corporate ladder. One would guess that Rajamani is sharing his largely unfettered rise to business success to illustrate the crashing loss of his world after the hemorrhage. Unfortunately, the writing never goes to any depth in reflecting on the changes brought about. Rajamani presents the anecdotes of his life as one might share personal stories to an impromptu gathering of co-workers at a new job--guardedly, always looking to pose the events in the best possible light. The interesting details and reflections largely fall through the cracks, leaving readers with little to reflect upon beyond a general appreciation of the resilience of the human brain. Dramatic story, dull delivery.

Product Details

Algonquin Books of Chapel Hill
Publication date:
Sales rank:
Product dimensions:
5.40(w) x 8.10(h) x 0.80(d)

Meet the Author

Ashok Rajamani lives in New York City. His work has appeared in dozens of publications, including Scholars & Rogues, South Asian Review, Danse Macabre, and 3:AM Magazine. This is his first book.

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The Day My Brain Exploded: A True Story 4.5 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 10 reviews.
Fuentes1 More than 1 year ago
Upon reading this true story I was immediately drawn to the in your face title. The jacket cover art underscores the triumph and the tragedy the day Ashok Rajamani's brain exploded. The words within the pages are indeed expertly detailed in a matter of fact way. Unlike memoir's I have read that are chronological in approach this memoir is like a flashes or chunks of Rajamani's life. At times I just had to put the book down because of the pain that Mr. Rajamani had endured during the hospital fall, the overt medical neglect and worst of all the childhood traumas in middle American that today would be considered hate crimes. Through time tragedies make the best comedies. Mr. Rajamani succeeds like the best musicals on Broadway where there is a triumph at the end.
Robby_Man More than 1 year ago
I read the book in one reading. It took me approximately three hours to complete the book from page 1 to the last page. This is a rarity for me as I usually finish a book in several settings taking as much as two weeks to complete a book! The author has written the book in an interesting manner and has described in vivid details what happened to him on the day of his brother&rsquo;s wedding. The narrative was clear, gripping and is emotion packed. Although at times he is angry that he had to undergo brain surgery at an young age and experience the consequences of the brain hemorrhage, he describes in detail how he copes with this difficult situation and finds a purpose and meaning to his life. The author also clearly states how is committed to helping other disabled persons meet their daily challenges with life. I am very much impressed with this author&rsquo;s writing style and his determination and courage in meeting the future with great optimism, hope, and finding peace with himself. I strongly recommend this book.
NineTiger More than 1 year ago
Everyone has bad days, but back in 2000, Ashok Rajamani, a young man just coming into his own in the world, had a really bad day. Just before his brother's wedding, he suffered from a brain aneurysm caused by an Arteriovenous Malformation (AVM). The circulatory knot of arteries and veins, a congenital malformation, had ruptured; the literal ticking time bomb had gone off in spectacular fashion. The good news was that Ashok survived; the bad news was that the person that he had been had died. His account tells of his physical and mental struggles and how he came to an uneasy peace with the realization that he was now Ashok 2.0, a person who suffered from an odd form of blindness, epileptic seizures and visual hallucinations. Written in a conversational tone replete with healthy doses of gallows humor, especially when touching on doctors, and their advice or lack of it, his story is more than just an accounting of a recovery from a serious medical issue. He also examines what makes an individual unique through looking at his relationships and his experiences growing up as an South Indian American in the USA. I received this book as part of Library Thing's Early Reviewer program.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Excellent book. Thoroughly enjoyed reading this book. Highly recommend as a good read A reader at Barnes and Noble.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
terrific memoir. drama, humor, hope... its just amazing.
BabsReads More than 1 year ago
It is amazing, astounding, and incredible to note the progress in recovery that he has made! He loved his family. He must have been hard to love at times. This is a quick read. Though he skips around in telling the story, it can be read as a sort of stream of consciousness event. If you are a reader of memoirs addressing loss (as I am), you will appreciate this account. I reference other momoirs such as &quot;A Widow's Story&quot; by Joyce Carol Oates; &quot;Blue Nights&quot; by Joan Didion and &quot;I Married You for Happiness&quot; by Lily Tuck.
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Anonymous More than 1 year ago
This is one books I have ever read. I was originally drawn into this book by the simple cover and strong title yet as the pages went on I found myself rooting against the main character. Below are a few of the reasons: 1.) No one has a brain hemorrhage and than remembers moments after to dial 911, this in itself proves this story to be more fact than fiction. 2.) Ashok is extremely unlikable, reading about him just makes me feel like he is constantly judging everyone even those in his brain injury guide are not spared from his condescending tone 3.) The book constantly jumps around with no real conclusion other than the main character is spoiled, arrogant and very lucky To be honest I could only get half way through before getting extremely bored. Here is a summary of the entire book to prevent you from buying it: Arrogant, Selfish, Spoiled man has a brain hemorrhage he lives to continue belittling and patronizing other people essentially learning no lesson other than maybe how to exploit people farther with his injury to get a book deal.