After a lifetime of being unscathed by illness, writer and New York Times book critic Anatole Broyard was afflicted with cancer in 1989. Although he had witnessed the drama and agony of his father's bout with this disease, he was unprepared for his own startling response to it. In Intoxicated by My Illness And Other Writings on Life and Death Anatole Broyard reports on his own version of a spiritual journey. He notes: "I saw my illness as a visit to a disturbed country rather like contemporary China. I imagined it as a love affair with a demented woman who demanded things I had never done before."
Broyard reads the literature of death and likes works which reveal how illness can transform individuals. Bumping into people who want to talk about their diseases, he realizes that "stories are antibodies against illness and pain." In a chapter on doctors, the author admits, "I want one who is a close reader of illness and a good critic of medicine...someone who can treat body and soul."
Broyard's inspired writing reaches that sweet spot in time where mind and spirit are one. "Being ill and dying is largely, to a great degree, a matter of style," he concludes. Yes, and Broyard's celebration of the mysteries of life, desire, storytelling, and much more is rendered in a style that demands praise. Intoxicated by My Illness is a masterwork on the art of dying.