Literary Works

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Engelberg Book CoverCancer Made Me A Shallower Person: A Memoir in Comics by Miriam Engelberg (Harper Collins, 2006) is a collection of short comic strips that deal with varied aspects of her cancer experience. It provides a counter-narrative to the upbeat, sheroic survivorship trope that dominates pink ribbon culture. Unlike many of its counterparts, the book isn’t chock full of inspiration, triumph, personal transformation, or a vivacious style that thrives on feminine accessories. It is smart, funny, and irreverent while the rough lines, basic colors, and messy drawings reflect a deeper message of truth, personal struggle, and limited time. Miriam Engleberg died just a few months after her book was published. Breast–Cancer–Literary Works–Graphic Arts Read BCC Review »


OverpassGirlCoverOverpass by Steve Davenport (Arsenic Lobster/Misty Publications, 2012) – When Steve Davenport opened his email that day, back in 1999, he had no idea that his close friend from high school, a woman he’d lost touch with for about 17 years, would end up being a character in one of his books. The friend who resurfaces after all those years becomes, conversation after conversation, the central figure in Overpass, a collection of 47 poems published in 2012. Overpass Girl, or O.G. is the woman who hovers above the terrain of the Illinois floodplain, diagnosed with breast cancer, stage IV metastatic, with nothing he can do except tell a story of her reality, and his own ruminations. Overpass is as much about the life of this Midwest author as it is about his friendship with O.G. and the narration of her experience with metastasizing cancer. Read the poem “Good Housekeeping” from Overpass, and the companion essay, “No Apology for Happiness.” Breast–Cancer–Literary Works–Poetry


cover-lgReading & Writing Cancer: How Words Heal by Susan Gubar (W.W. Norton & Co., 2016) — Elaborating upon her “Living with Cancer” column in the New York Times, Susan Gubar helps patients, caregivers, and the specialists who seek to serve them. In a book both enlightening and practical, she describes how the activities of reading and writing can right some of cancer’s wrongs. To stimulate the writing process, she proposes specific exercises, prompts, and models. In discussions of the diary of Fanny Burney, the stories of Leo Tolstoy and Alice Munro, numerous memoirs, novels, paintings, photographs, and blogs, Gubar shows how readers can learn from art that deepens our comprehension of what it means to live or die with the disease. Breast–Cancer–Literary Works Read BCC Review »


2014 Green - The Fault In Our Stars CoverThe Fault In Our Stars by John Green (Dutton Books, 2012) The Fault in Our Stars is narrated by a sixteen-year-old cancer patient named Hazel, who is forced by her parents to attend a support group, where she subsequently meets and falls in love with the seventeen-year-old Augustus Waters, an ex-basketball player and amputee. Hazel was diagnosed with Stage 4 Thyroid cancer with metastasis forming in her lungs when she was 13, but an experimental drug helped to extend her life. The romance between Hazel and Augustus continues through pain, struggle, and odd circumstances. Shortly before Augustus dies, he asks Hazel to conduct a pre-funeral for him. Eight days later, he dies. As Hazel comes to terms with her situation and Augustus’ death Green’s book exposes a deeply embedded cultural habit, that of imagining the very sick or the dying as fundamentally “other,” devoid of the complete humanity easily granted to those who are well. The title of the book, inspired by a line from Shakespeare’s Julius Caesar (Act 1, scene 2), echoes the sentiment. Cassius says to Brutus, “The fault, dear Brutus, is not in our stars, / But in ourselves, that we are underlings.” Breast–Cancer–Literary Works–Young Adult Fiction


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