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The Diving Bell and the Butterfly (Vintage International) Paperback – November 20, 2007
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We've all got our idiosyncrasies when it comes to writing--a special chair we have to sit in, a certain kind of yellow paper we absolutely must use. To create this tremendously affecting memoir, Jean-Dominique Bauby used the only tool available to him--his left eye--with which he blinked out its short chapters, letter by letter. Two years ago, Bauby, then the 43-year-old editor-in-chief of Elle France, suffered a rare stroke to the brain stem; only his left eye and brain escaped damage. Rather than accept his "locked in" situation as a kind of death, Bauby ignited a fire of the imagination under himself and lived his last days--he died two days after the French publication of this slim volume--spiritually unfettered. In these pages Bauby journeys to exotic places he has and has not been, serving himself delectable gourmet meals along the way (surprise: everything's ripe and nothing burns). In the simplest of terms he describes how it feels to see reflected in a window "the head of a man who seemed to have emerged from a vat of formaldehyde." --This text refers to the Audio Cassette edition.
From Library Journal
On December 8 1995, Elle magazine editor-in-chief Bauby suffered a stroke and lapsed into a coma. He awoke 20 days later, mentally aware of his surroundings but physically paralyzed with the exception of some movement in his head and left eye. Bauby had Locked-in-Syndrome, a rare condition caused by stroke damage to the brain stem. Eye movements and blinking a code representing letters of the alphabet became his sole means of communication. It is also how he dictated this warm, sad, and extraordinary memoir. Bauby's thoughts on the illness, the hospital, family, friends, career, and life before and after the stroke appear with considerable humor and humanity. Actor Rene Auberjonois's narration adds to the poignancy of the story. Sadly, Bauby died of his condition in 1997. This is a fine companion to works like Lucy Grealy's Autobiography of a Face (LJ 7/94). For all audio collections.?Stephen L. Hupp, Univ. of Pittsburgh at Johnstown Lib.
Copyright 1997 Reed Business Information, Inc. --This text refers to the Audio Cassette edition.
Top customer reviews
I have passed it on to other readers; it's not one I anticipate re-reading, but it was a great context for neurobiology and a thoughtful read.
It is a well written, poignant tale by Jean-Dominique Bauby that chronicles his days following a massive stroke when he was just 42 years old. He was left in a state called "locked-in syndrome," which paralyzed him from the neck down but left his brain neurologically intact. After a decision to stitch his right eye closed to ward off any infection, Bauby was left with only his left eyelid to blink in order to communicate with the world.
I have no idea how he mustered the resiliency to soldier on and write this book, but with the help of a speech therapist, he developed a way to communicate and share his story.
It is heartbreaking yet uplifting at the same time and a book I highly recommend everyone read and share.