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Unenjoyed books

The Etiquette of Illness: What to Say When You Can't Find the Words

I thought it might be helpful to take a look at a book about responding to bad health news. It was, kinda, but the book is a real slog to get through and the anecdotes made me wonder more about the vast resources that must be out there but beyond my grasp. There are a few good tips. One of the best was actually mentioned in The End of Your Life Book Club (quick review of TEoYLBC: nice, but not enough about books), which is how I found this book. Okay, so you should keep conversational options open by asking if people would like to talk about their issues rather than asking about the issues directly. You should avoid prescriptive advice. You should stop wondering whether it would be okay to contact people and reach right out and do it, unless you're told not to. Those were pretty practical ideas and I think they're worthwhile to keep in mind. But more of the book was stories, one after the other, of people visiting friends' country estates to recuperate or jetting to foreign spas for therapeutic seminars or spending merciful weeks bedside of friends under treatment. I don't know, it just seemed like she was talking about a different world, not my crowd. Anyway, it was a tiny little book and I didn't mind reading it but it wasn't much of a treat. Definitely go for the library or digital version if you read it! I don't know why Bloomsbury hasn't reprinted by now, but paper copies are ridiculously expensive.

Chris & Nancy: The True Story of the Benoit Murder-Suicide and Pro Wrestling's Cocktail of Death

What was I thinking? I read about this book on a list of a Kirkus reviewer's books that didn't get reviewed last year—books he had read but somehow not found an appropriate spot to discuss. This one he mentioned was extremely disturbing; I didn't know a thing about it, so I tried to find it at the library. I couldn't, I couldn't ILL it, and that made me want to read it more. So I bought a copy.

Ew.

It's not too awful, except the story is an awful story. Brian looked at the cover and asked, "Isn't that the wrestler who 'roided out and killed his family and himself?" That, indeed, is the short version. The slightly longer version is an indictment of the wrestling industry, which Muchnick draws out excruciatingly with repetition that would numb the hardiest fan of the sport (I am not at all a fan of the sport). He's not a bad writer and I did learn something, but the book pulls at you with prosecutorial fervor and the recurring footnote-reminders that a DVD with additional evidence can be ordered from the back pages only make it worse. With a good editor, this could have been a very interesting magazine article.

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