The Diving Bell and the Butterfly

Saturday, July 12, 2008

The Diving Bell and the Butterfly
Jean-Dominique Bauby
5/5 Stars

Jean-Dominique Bauby is a victim of 'Locked-In Syndrome." At the age of 43, he suffered a massive stroke that left him unable to move or speak. His only means of communication -- his left eyelid. Bauby spent weeks painstakingly dictating this memoir -- letter by letter.

I read this book in one sitting, it was that captivating. Through short vignettes, Bauby manages to describe the minute intimacies of his life in astonishing detail. From his first experience in a wheelchair, to bath-time, and finally through the development of his communication 'code' - Bauby's emotions touch on both anger and sadness without becomings desperate or hopeless.

There are also times of hope and, ultimately, love -- when he describes the visits of his children or memories of this father. Throughout the book, I was struck by Bauby's ability to be thankful for small things -- the ability to move his limbs a fraction of an inch, sitting in the Cinecitta, and the the ability of his mind to fly away like a butterfly.

It is not until the end of the book that Bauby describes his last day as a 'perfectly functioning earthling.' This most important day in his life is detailed with very little emotion. This makes the catastrophic details all the more haunting.

This is one the most poignant memoirs that I have ever read, and one of my favorite books of 2008.


Samakshi said...

Hey Erin!

You must watch the movie inspired by this book and true life story as well!
I haven't read the book, but i can assure you the movie is as arresting!

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Maree said...

I read it earlier this year, and it's one of my favourites now, too.