5 of 7
The Iceberg
288 pages; Grove Press, Black Cat
Anyone who has dealt with a loved one's terminal illness will find both solace—and honesty—in Marion Coutts' account of her husband Tom's struggle to survive a malignant brain tumor. Coutts describes their strange, new world in bracing terms: "The hospital was vertical. Beneath us, stacked like ballast, was our fellow cargo: layers and layers of the metropolitan sick arranged in dense, industrious warrens of gut, heart, bowel, bone, blood." With fierce precision, she records the journey through her husband's treatments, his struggle, their life with their young son and their quickly shifting roles. Tom died in January of 2011, at the age of 53. While Iceberg is an upsetting read, it's filled with moments of staggering beauty, as when Tom's speech begins to fail. "What else is there apart from language?" she asks him. "Let me list: music, touch, the great inter-cosmos of the eyes, running and jumping, sex, cooking, friendship, eating. There must be other things but I have come to a stop. It's a short list. We will devise another language and in it we will talk." An unforgettable chronicle of marriage and heartbreak.
— Dawn Raffel