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Cancer Made Me A Shallower Person: A Memoir in Comics    by Miriam Engelberg order for
Cancer Made Me A Shallower Person
by Miriam Engelberg
Order:  USA  Can
HarperCollins, 2006 (2006)

Read an Excerpt

* * *   Reviewed by Rheta Van Winkle

There's something ironic about a cartoon book that deals with cancer and that's really funny. Miriam Engelberg started drawing and writing cartoons about her treatment before she was even diagnosed. She calls her book a memoir in comics, and it has the freshness of having been written as its author/illustrator learned and was treated for her disease. She didn't know when she started the book that the suspicious mammogram would turn out to show cancer, just as she didn't know that a serious cancer would develop. She takes us with her through the whole experience, and she laughs at it.

Miriam hits on just about every cancer-related subject one could expect: the nosy questions of well-meaning friends, hair loss, the idea that a life-threatening illness makes you a better person. She over-analyzes everything, such as 'is it OK to play the cancer card with telemarketers?', or what did I eat or drink that might have caused my cancer? 'Tap water is full of chemicals, well water has pesticide run-off and bottled water contains toxins from plastic. That's why I only drink liquid squeezed from cactus plants.' Her cartoons are simple line drawings. The quirky remarks in the word balloons really bring these drawings to life. Of course, the smiles and frowns of the simply drawn people and the occasional appearance of the grim reaper help to set the tone.

Although a person with cancer might particularly enjoy this book, it speaks to all of us who have ever been to a doctor, had tests or strange treatments done, or been in hospitals. When we become ill with anything, we lose control over our lives. Miriam Engelberg has regained control of her life, as much as possible, with her delightful cartoons.

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