Lopsided by Meredith Norton

46 of 75
224 pages; Viking
With more gross-outs than a Judd Apatow comedy, Lopsided: How Having Breast Cancer Can Be Really Distracting (Viking) is nonetheless a truly elegant memoir, thanks to the rigor of author Meredith Norton, who has never seen the situation that she doesn't find absurd. Being diagnosed with a deadly form of breast cancer in her early 30s, while living in Paris with her French husband and year-old son, is no exception. A cynic and self-deprecating clown, Norton is terrific at narrating the physical slapstick of battling this disease. But she's even better on the arrogance and pretense the cancer reveals, whether that of the four French doctors too full of themselves to look at her tumor-filled breast or her own dilettantish self.

"There we were," she concludes at the end of the 20-month ordeal she and her husband endured, "with the same annoying habits and bad manners, ungrateful, pessimistic, undisciplined, and bored. We were just as mediocre as when this whole drama began.

Ungrateful, pessimistic, undisciplined, bored. What can you say about a writer like this, except that she's fresh and adorable, and you hope she sticks around to produce at least another dozen surly, lovely books?
— Michele Owens