Thursday, March 10, 2011

The Diving-Bell and the Butterfly by Jean-Dominique Bauby

Basic plot

What if in the blink of an eye, a massive stroke caused you to be paralyzed for life? Trapped inside your own body, your mind fully functioning yet totally helpless and dependant on others for every aspect of your life. Unable to communicate with another human being except through the blinking of a solitary eyelid, to see your loved ones live their lives without you and incapable of even holding your wife and children in your arms. This is exactly what happened to Jean-Dominique Bauby, the editor of French Elle magazine. What did he do? He wrote a book!

What I liked about this book

The fact that this is a true story and personal account of a person who has "locked-in" syndrome and that he painstakingly dictated this whole book simply by blinking one eye, spelling each word letter by letter is humbling. The sheer tenacity of the human spirit and it's ability to overcome adversities of gigantic proportions is mind-blowing. Some parts of the book left me in tears.

What I disliked about the book

I am unsure if it is due to the fact that the original book was in French but I felt as if the book loss some of it's poignant sorrow and beauty that must have been in the original text. It resulted in several chapters being disjointed and either too abstract or too narrative in nature. This book has been turned into a movie which won the BEST DIRECTOR award at Cannes Festival & BEST PICTURE/DIRECTOR (Foreign Language) at the Golden Globes and I can almost imagine how tear-jerking it would be. It is probably a beautiful movie to watch.

A quote I liked from the book

"Like a bath, my old clothes could easily bring back poignant, painful memories. But I see in the clothes a symbol of continuing life. And proof that I still want to be myself. If I must drool, I may as well drool on cashmere."

Rating: 3.5/5

This review is part of Cym Lowell's Book Review Party Wednesday



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