Book Club › Book of the Month › 2017 Book Selections › April BOTM: When Breath Becomes Air by Paul Kalanithi › Reply To: April BOTM: When Breath Becomes Air by Paul Kalanithi
I finished this last week or something like that. And yeah, the over all arching theme word was depressing. I knew it would be just because of the subject matter. Like you, I couldn’t wait to be done and move on to something less depressing.
And I fully expected the arrogance with the doctor/medical side. But I also thought it was there on the personal side and in the literature side. Sometimes I felt like he was name dropping books and authors just to say “Look what I’ve read. That’s how great I am”. I’ve known and worked with a few English profs and while there may be 1 or 2 who were ego driven jerks (every college dept on the planet has at least 1), most are not. Honestly, looking at his writing and medical life, that’s probably a reason why he moved on to science rather than staying anywhere near English Lit. His writing kind of nagged at me in that it felt clinical and I was never not able to put it down. I read a review on Goodreads that compared it to a writers workshop where everyone is trying to one up the last person to share. That’s definitely what it felt like. Like instead of just putting his thoughts and feelings to paper, he was always trying to make those words and feelings more grandiose, more larger than life. Somehow those sentences and paragraphs needed to be more profound than anything else thought or written by someone facing death. Instead it felt almost monotonous, pretentious and less empathetic than it could have been.
Now the afterword/epilogue written by his wife, Lucy? That got to me. Like, I should probably have a couple of tissues nearby got to me. She should write more. And she should be credited as a co-author.