CBR10Bingo – Cannonballer Says
Here’s the original review:
This memoir or collection of narrative essays, depending on exactly how you look at it, deals with what Maggie O’Farrell describes in the title as Seventeen Brushes with Death. And it’s important to note from the outset, that what will be become clear if you read the book, is that she never limits herself to her own specific brushes with death. And thankfully, she doesn’t co-opt anyone else’s. It’s fair to me that she writes about her daughter’s health issues and does so effectively.
The memoir begins with a moment in which Maggie O’Farrell at 18 has a brush with what she strongly feels and suggests is a confirmed murderer who initiates an encounter with O’Farrell in the same manner as his previous murder. She doesn’t know this at first and only think it’s a weird and unsettling run-in with someone trying to intimidate and frighten her. Even the police initially laugh it off until the details of her experience match up with the other case.
From there, she describes several almost drownings and various other run-ins.
As good as the writing is, I have to only give this three stars for a couple of reasons. It’s non-stop with the dreariness on this one. Every story is written with such absolute gravity (and it seems unlikely that they should also be written so) and so the total effect of this otherwise very short book is a slog through pain and trauma. And so I found myself tipping into the numb and cynical reactionary elements by the end. It’s probably the case that what we really have here is 5 or so very good essays, a large amount of filler, and what should have been elements of a larger collected nonfiction with a section on this topic.