Enter your mobile number or email address below and we'll send you a link to download the free Kindle App. Then you can start reading Kindle books on your smartphone, tablet, or computer - no Kindle device required.

  • Apple
  • Android
  • Windows Phone
  • Android

To get the free app, enter your email address or mobile phone number.

Sell yours for a Gift Card
We'll buy it for $2.17
Learn More
Trade in now
Have one to sell? Sell on Amazon
Flip to back Flip to front
Listen Playing... Paused   You're listening to a sample of the Audible audio edition.
Learn more
See this image

Our Cancer Year Paperback – October 13, 1994

3.5 out of 5 stars 22 customer reviews

See all 2 formats and editions Hide other formats and editions
New from Used from
"Please retry"
$42.70 $9.59

When Breath Becomes Air by Paul Kalanithi
"When Breath Becomes Air" by Paul Kalanithi
For readers of Atul Gawande, Andrew Solomon, and Anne Lamott, a profoundly moving, exquisitely observed memoir by a young neurosurgeon faced with a terminal cancer diagnosis who attempts to answer the question - What makes a life worth living? Learn more | See related books

Editorial Reviews

Amazon.com Review

"This is a story about a year when someone was sick, about a time when it seemed that the rest of the world was sick, too." So begins Harvey Pekar and Joyce Brabner's painful comic book autobiography centering on the year that they found out that Pekar had cancer; the year that also saw Operation Desert Shield turn into Operation Desert Storm. Drawing upon the many personal trials they faced, Pekar and Brabner create a portrait of a man beset with fears both real and imagined.

From Publishers Weekly

Joined by his wife and collaborator Brabner and illustrator Stack, Pekar's (The New American Splendor Anthology) first book-length comics narrative is by turns amusing, frightening, moving and quietly entertaining. As always, Pekar's work records his apparently ordinary life as a hospital clerk in Cleveland while simultaneously capturing the epiphanic combination of mundanity and awkward, sporadic nobility of everyday life. In 1990, Pekar was diagnosed with lymphoma and needed chemotherapy. By the time the disease was discovered, the couple was in the midst of buying a house (a tremendous worry to Pekar, who fretted about both the money and corruptions of bourgeois creature comforts). Brabner, a self-described "comic book journalist," had to oversee both the new house and a sick and very difficult husband. Pekar's cancer treatment and suffering will take your breath away, but there's a happy ending; and the book (and their marriage) is distinguished by Brabner's great tenderness and determination in the middle of Pekar's medical nightmare. Stack's brisk and elegantly gestural black-and-white drawings wonderfully delineate this captivating story of love, community, recuperation and international friendship.
Copyright 1994 Reed Business Information, Inc.

Looking for the Audiobook Edition?
Tell us that you'd like this title to be produced as an audiobook, and we'll alert our colleagues at Audible.com. If you are the author or rights holder, let Audible help you produce the audiobook: Learn more at ACX.com.

Product Details

  • Paperback: 252 pages
  • Publisher: Running Press (October 13, 1994)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1568580118
  • ISBN-13: 978-1568580111
  • Product Dimensions: 10 x 8 x 0.4 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 14.4 ounces
  • Average Customer Review: 3.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (22 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #353,048 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

More About the Authors

Discover books, learn about writers, read author blogs, and more.

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

Format: Paperback
A fine work of autobiography. Understand, however, that Harvey is critical of everything, himself included, and his unflinching eye depicts his personal agony alongside the state-of-the-world at the time. As in many of his extended works, Harvey uses his story to get up on a soap-box, but if you think of his comics as an extension of his life, you might be begining to appreciate what he really is. Harvey IS his stories.
I was struck by the relationship between Harvey and his wife Joyce: if there is a better depiction of the difficulty in love in the midst of illness, I don't know it. Their relationship is loving and it touched me deeply.
Comment 21 of 21 people found this helpful. Was this review helpful to you? Yes No Sending feedback...
Thank you for your feedback.
Sorry, we failed to record your vote. Please try again
Report abuse
Format: Paperback
It's very important to emphasize here that Frank Stack's artwork is not "sloppy" or "crude" in any sense. He and Bill Griffith probably have the strongest straight-art chops of anybody doing comics now. But Stack isn't just technically accomplished. Once you learn to follow his deceptively simple lines, he's profoundly expressive in his impressionist manner. Especially dealing with the tough stuff in this story, he finds the exact unsentimental tone. If he was a more prolific storyteller (or had just a bit more vivid sense of humor) his work would be mentioned right with Griffith, Crumb, Sheldon, Williams, Woodring -- the likes of those. Barbner and Pekar's single finest stroke may have been choose Stack to do the art for "Our Cancer Year."
1 Comment 14 of 15 people found this helpful. Was this review helpful to you? Yes No Sending feedback...
Thank you for your feedback.
Sorry, we failed to record your vote. Please try again
Report abuse
Format: Paperback
I found this book interesting since I'm a fan of Pekar's American Splendor series and his appearances on David Letterman's shows (apparently at an end, unfortunately for Pekar, even more unfortunately for Letterman). This book's an in depth look at Pekar's struggle with lymphoma. Given the subject matter, it's probably no surprise that this isn't as amusing as the American Splendor anthologies. But for fans, or for people struggling with illness, it's probably a worthwhile read.
Comment 10 of 10 people found this helpful. Was this review helpful to you? Yes No Sending feedback...
Thank you for your feedback.
Sorry, we failed to record your vote. Please try again
Report abuse
Format: Paperback
The first time I read this, it was because I wanted to read more about Harvey and his bout with cancer. I found it to be a very moving story that was -- as I would expect -- very honest and open on many of the details from that time. Even then, I was moved by how the chemotherapy nearly wiped him out, and how his own natural depression was exacerbated by the illness.

The second time I read this, it was because someone I know has cancer. Seeing her go through this, even at a distance, makes this even more poignant. Parts of this, to be honest, were hard to read. It's a very strong, unflinching book and I'm not sure it's for everyone (especially if you're about to start chemo). But, that being said, it is definitely worth reading.

A few quick comments:

1) The artist is, indeed, quite skilled (I've been a fan of his work for years), but he chose to do a very rough rendition here. This may not appeal to everyone.
2) I don't think you need to have any prior knowledge of Harvey Pekar or Joyce Brabner (although watching the movie, American Splendor, certainly would help).
3) In spite of the many good things I have to say about this book, I feel I must comment on its sloppy production values. Throughout the book, the text is marred by countless paste-up lines. Thin shadows visible near the places where they pasted the text onto the art board. Please, don't respond and say this is some sort of artistic decision. I was a professional typesetter for many years, and I can tell that this is just pure sloppy work. There are also places where the lettering style changes in the middle of a sentence and, obviously, this is where an editor spliced in a small correction.
Read more ›
Comment 9 of 9 people found this helpful. Was this review helpful to you? Yes No Sending feedback...
Thank you for your feedback.
Sorry, we failed to record your vote. Please try again
Report abuse
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
I've always admired Joyce Brabner (I've even, truth to tell, had a bit of a crush on her). I like her writing talent, her passion for justice, her activism, her wit, her nonconformity, her looks, her scrapiness, and her determination to protect and nurture her obsessive-compulsive genius of a husband Harvey Pekar. And I love this memoir of the year in which things fell apart on several different fronts, and how Joyce picked them up. Our Cancer Year was co-written by Harvey and Joyce, but let's face it: the protagonist in the story is--and ought to be--Joyce.

Our Cancer Year has three plots going on in it. Joyce struggles to write a book about young kids around the world who work for peace; Joyce and Harvey decide to leave their rented apartment and buy a house; and Harvey is diagnosed and treated for lymphoma. In three intersecting circles, then, we see things fall apart: the trauma for the kids and Joyce's tireless (and occasionally despairing) efforts to befriend and nurture them; the hassles and unexpected emergencies that come with buying and fixing up a house; and the disruption of the quotidian when serious illness comes. The ordinary--which is, after all, Pekar's chosen metier--becomes confused, conflicted, messed up. Things fall apart.

It's Joyce's job to try to put them back together--or at least to be strong enough to help the kids and Harvey get through the storm until calmer weather returns. Her struggle to hold the center is the real story here, and it's a gripping and poignant one that actually caused tears to come to my eyes at one point (when Dana, one of the peace kids, leaves a phone message that an exhausted Joyce is too tired to pick up). Harvey's suffering, the numbness of Uri and the anger of Zamir, the insensitivity of Dr.
Read more ›
Comment 9 of 10 people found this helpful. Was this review helpful to you? Yes No Sending feedback...
Thank you for your feedback.
Sorry, we failed to record your vote. Please try again
Report abuse

Most Recent Customer Reviews

Want to discover more products? Check out these pages to see more: cancer books, graphic history