Lerner narrates and meditates on his survival of two bouts with cancer and a heart attack over a five-year period that began when he was 78. ``What distinguishes his account is the author's ability to summon up his psychic forces to engage in death-defying combat and, despite pain and physical debilitation, to continue writing and teaching,'' said PW . (Aug.)
Journalist/scholar Lerner writes with uplifting gusto of his battles with a series of life-threatening illnesses. With intelligence, curiosity, and assertiveness, he was able to overcome the dehumanizing experience of hospitalization, retain a sense of self, and demand an active role in his treatment. He was aided by superb medical care, a supportive family, and the determination to live. The journal entries from the periods of travail reveal intimate glimpses of a man struggling with his mortality. The book is enriched by numerous literary allusions and metaphors, ranging from classical mythology to contemporary poets, that are characteristic of his writing style. A keen, analytic observer, this feisty octogenarian offers many unique perspectives in discussing illness, the healing process, aging, and death. A remarkable zest for living emerges in this book.-- Carol R. Glatt, Northeastern Hosp . of Philadelphia Lib.