4 of 5
152 pages; Tin House Books
"About two years ago I bought a euthanasia drug online from China." So begins Australian novelist Cory Taylor's too-short memoir on the unrelenting and terrifying act of dying. Written over the course of a few weeks as her aggressive brain cancer spreads and treatment options cease, the book examines the decisions facing the 60-year-old mother. She considers the only deaths she's ever witnessed: that of her parents and of a close friend. And she yearns to take evening walks with her husband—now made impossible by her thin frame (she weighs, at this point, less than her neighbor's retriever). Perhaps the most moving moments in the book are Taylor's thoughts on isolation. Apart from palliative care specialists, none of her doctors will talk with her about dying. The secret meetings she attends—held by a support group for those interested in assisted suicide—become a kind of emotional balm. A deeply personal conversation about the alchemy of death, this brave memoir reveals the intimacy of the act, where "we're like the last survivors on a sinking ship, huddled together for warmth."
— Kelly McMasters