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Sunday, February 10, 2008

The Diving Bell and the Butterfly: Review

I’ve been mulling this one over for a few days. It’s a very short book; and a fast read. But it definitely stays with you.
The Diving Bell and the Butterfly is a memoir of the mind. It’s by Jean-Dominique Bauby who, at the age of 43, suffered a stroke which left him with locked-in syndrome.
Basically that means he couldn’t move, but his mind was fine.
He dictated the book through the only means he had – his left eyelid.
That in itself is remarkable, but the book itself is even moreso.
It’s beautiful, haunting and wistful all at once.
Bauby – who died in 1996 two days after the book was published in France – is a compelling narrator. His voice is so strong throughout that I had to remind myself he was gone – and had been for a long time.
There’s a lot of stream of consciousness in Butterfly, but it all comes together.
Bauby starts with waking from a coma in hospital and ends with the day it happened.
In between is a remarkable journey into the deepest recesses of someone’s mind.
All Bauby has left to him are his thoughts, making The Diving Bell and the Butterfly a profound, and profoundly moving read.
I’m looking forward to the movie.

2 comments:

Aria said...

I hadn't heard of this until I watched the Oscars, for which the movie was nominated once or twice. It definitely looks like a book to pick up! (though I am usually wary of books made into movies - they always disappoint.)

tessarsmith said...

I loved "The Diving Bell and the Butterfly", but the movie I'd rather see is "My Stroke of Insight", which is the amazing bestselling book by Dr Jill Bolte Taylor. It is an incredible story and there's a happy ending. She was a 37 year old Harvard brain scientist who had a stroke in the left half of her brain. The story is about how she fully recovered, what she learned and experienced, and it teaches a lot about how to live a better life. Her TEDTalk at TED dot com is fantastic too. It's been spread online millions of times and you'll see why!