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No Laughing Matter Paperback – October 1, 2004

4.2 out of 5 stars 19 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

Heller's much-admired account of his battle with the neurological disorder Guillain-Barre syndrome was first published in 1986.
Copyright 1994 Reed Business Information, Inc. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

About the Author

Joseph Heller was born in Brooklyn in 1923. In 1961, he published Catch-22, which became a bestseller and, in 1970, a film. He went on to write such novels as Good as Gold, God Knows, Picture This, Closing Time, and Portrait of an Artist, as an Old Man. Heller died in 1999.
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Product Details

  • Paperback: 336 pages
  • Publisher: Simon & Schuster (October 1, 2004)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0743247175
  • ISBN-13: 978-0743247177
  • Product Dimensions: 5.5 x 1 x 8.4 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 11.2 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.2 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (19 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #896,431 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

Format: Mass Market Paperback
Joseph Heller relates his terrifying experience with the disease Guillian Barre Syndrome, a debilitating, but rare disease affecting the peripheral nervous system. Any medical practitioner, nurse, or victims relatives should make this book required reading so as to appreciate the symptoms and effects of the disease, as well as to understand the recovery period and what's involved with it. Although Mr. Heller had a severe reaction, most victims experience a lesser effect and recover more quickly. The book is highly recommended from a victim of the disease.
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Format: Mass Market Paperback
NO LAUGHING MATTER is a very informative and entertaining piece of writing. Co-authored by Joseph Heller and Speed Vogel (who write alternating chapters) it details the effects of the rare debilitating affliction called Guillain-Barre syndrome. This autobiographical/biographical chronicle passes along a lot of information without once falling into obscure medical dullness.
Guillain-Barre is a disease that attacks the central nervous system, rendering the victim completely paralyzed. Although what Heller contracted was a mild form of the disorder, in an extreme case mentioned a patient was only able to move their eyes. Recovery is possible from this disease; if it's caught early enough, the patient can be hooked up to a respirator if need be and then slowly rehabilitated. NO LAUGHING MATTER is two stories. The first is that of Joseph Heller the patient who goes from being in (seemingly) perfect health to being utterly bedridden in a matter of days. The second part of the tale is told by Speed Vogel, a friend of Heller, who took care of virtually all of his financial, legal and personal obligations.
From reading some other reviews of the book, one might be under the impression that this is a light and fluffy feel-good story of friendship where one will be forced to read numerous passages on the deeper meanings of love and caring. People learning great life lessons by sacrificing much that they have purely in the name of camaraderie. Chicken soup for the soul and novocain for the brain. Fortunately, one couldn't be further from the truth. While the two authors obviously have a great fondness for each other, you won't find any obvious soliloquies on the healing power of friendship.
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Format: Mass Market Paperback
As a GBS (Guillain Barre Syndrome) victim myself, with little knowledge of this horrible debilitating disease, I was led to Heller's book on this subject. Heller did a fine job of describing his experience with the disease, which many other vicitms have, or will experience with its onset and recovery. Joe's case was a severe one; but from my obtained knowledge of the disease, there are many victims that have had or will have the same symptoms and prognosis. Again, Joe did a fine job on this subject, and its must reading for anyone directly or remotely associated with victims of the disease: Guillain Barre Syndrome! This book is suggested (required) reading for health care providers (Doctors/Nurses) so they become familiar with the symptoms of the onset of the disease, as well as the emotional and physical disability associated with it.
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Format: Paperback
Heller was one of my all-time favorite writers, and his books never disappointed me. This book, written with his good friend Speed Vogel, is a description of Heller's medical ordeal.

Heller had Guillain-Barre syndrome, which is like a temporary form of polio. The muscles in his body shut down leaving him paralyzed. Eventually, the muscles started to work again, but he had to go through a long, difficult rehab process. He had to learn to do everything he had done without thinking about it before he got sick. Vogel helped him through the process and they decided to write this book to describe the whole ordeal.

The book is full of funny stories of these two men, and their other friends. It was great to see that he kept his amazing sense of humor throughout his illness. If you've enjoyed any of his other books, you should get a big kick out of this one too.
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Format: Mass Market Paperback
NO LAUGHING MATTER has some great moments. In places Joseph Heller demonstrated his ability to be funny and touching at the same time. The book was a great inspiration to me at a time when I needed the help it gave me. As the author of SOLOMON'S PORCH, a novel about a man with CIDP, the slow version of Guillain Barre', I was fascinated with this book about Joe Heller and his caretakers. Most of the material that I have read about GBS and CIDP focuses almost exclusively on the patient, but Mr. Heller wrote every other chapter of this book and had his friend, who became one of his caretakers, write the alternate chapters. At the time I read NO LAUGHING MATTER, I was beginning to formulate SOLOMON'S PORCH in my mind. NLM gave me some good ideas about structure.
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Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
I bought this book for a friend who has been stricken with Guillain-Barre and read it myself first. I do not know how much knowledge and treatment about GB has changed since this book was written in 1986 and has been updated in 2004, but that is not the edition I read. The chapters alternate being written by Joseph Heller and his friend Speed Vogel who went through it all with Heller, along with the camaraderie of a host of friends that the two of them have fostered through their lives. Despite the horror of Guillain-Barre, well into his recovery Heller recalls the first year of it as being one of the most memorable of his life.
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