Shortlisted 2012 Leacock Medal for Humour
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At age forty-three, Robyn Michele Levy was diagnosed with Parkinson’s disease and, eight months later, with breast cancer. With irreverent and at times mordant humor, Most of Me chronicles Levy’s early, mysterious symptoms (a dragging left foot, a frozen left hand, and finally, a crash into “downward dead dog” position on the yoga mat), the devastating diagnosis, her subsequent discovery of two lumps in her breast (Little Lump and Big Blob), her mastectomy and oopherectomy (after which she discovers there is unfortunately no ovary fairy), and her life since then dealing with her diverse disease portfolio. She is accompanied on her journey by a fantastic cast of characters, including her Cry Lady (who always makes appearances at inopportune times) and perky Dolores the Prosthesis, as well as her loyal dog, Nellie, and a convoy of health professionals, family members, friends, and neighbors.
Much of Levy’s life is spent visiting those health professionals, but she makes the best of those visits. At an appointment with her neurologist, she wholeheartedly participates in party games such as “tap the patient’s impaired reflexes” and “try to move the patient’s rigid left arm.” After “scrutinize the patient’s lopsided walk” and “make the patient lose her balance but catch her before she falls,” Levy is sorry to realize that the party is over, especially when she gets a prescription instead of a grab bag. She has the last laugh, however, as the doctor tries to help her put her disobedient left arm into her coat sleeve and suddenly her arm jolts violently against his body. Strangely, this happens again and again, and in the end she has managed to “accidentally” punch him several times.
Both heart-breaking and hilarious, Most of Me offers a unique glimpse into a creative mind, an ailing body, and the restorative power of humor and fantasy.
Memoir – Health September 2011 Paperback ISBN: 978-1553656326 CDN $21.95 21.4 x 13.8 x 1.8 cm 256 pages Published by Greystone Books
Reviews & Praise
“The world’s happiest misery memoir…Those suffering ill health will find amusement, entertainment, possibly solace, perhaps even a respite; those fortunate enough to enjoy good health will, if they’re sensible, be as grateful as they ought to be.” — Kathleen Byrne, The Globe and Mail
“It is a brave story, not because of the private emotional reality she bares – all memoirs require that. It’s her determined levity in the face of so much suffering that’s heartbreaking and raw.” — Sarah Hampson, Globe & Mail
“It’s serious stuff, but Levy’s writing style is so accessible and compelling that reading her memoir feels like sitting down with a good friend over coffee to hear the latest. Every page is loaded with emotion so heart-wrenching it’s almost unbearable, yet her tone is so engaging, her humour so dark, that you can’t help but keep reading.” — Gail Johnson, Georgia Straight
“Robyn Levy, never one to do things by half, was diagnosed with two life-altering illnesses. Most of me is her funny / sad and delightfully bawdy account of a dangerous and memorable journey. Long may she travel, and more may she write.” –— Bill Richardson, CBC Radio host, author
“Equally seduced and tortured, I am left in pieces with her words covering my heart. Her journey is triumphant and turbulent, and her integrity and honesty, simultaneously, broke and healed my heart, fresh from my own journey through breast cancer. Robyn’s story was so riveting and endearingly funny in her wonderful words, I hungrily devoured them like a monster.” — Bif Naked, recording artist, breast cancer survivor
“An astonishing debut from a writer adept at handling the delicate balance between laughter and tears. I experienced both in this story – a memoir, about disease, family, love, loss and the incredible human facility to rise above the cards we’re dealt.” — Cori Howard, author/editor of Between Interruptions: Thirty Women Tell the Truth about Motherhood
“This is a deliciously poetic, humour-laced narrative by a courageous and wickedly honest woman who has been handed a mountain of medical lemons in the prime of her life. Robyn Levy’s spirit will stick with you long after you finish the book.” — Rhona Raskin, radio host, author