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Reviews on Books, Music, Film or TV series that relate to Narrative Medicine

Sex Love Religion: Selected Poems by Larry Oakner (Blind Tattoo Press, $7).

In this new provocatively titled chapbook, the poet, one of the contributors to the Fall 2017 Intima: A Journal of Narrative Medicine ("Falling" and "For My Father, Lost") draws on his life's work, this collection of poems captures the poet's essence in a style that is both exalted and that of a worldly wise and weary traveler. Moving from the sacred to the profane and back again, these poems trace the Middle Path the poet strives for as exemplified by his title. Oakner has the ability to frame his thoughts in a context of the sublime and the instinctual as a man who embraces the spiritual but knows that we live viscerally. Larry Oakner, who holds a M.A. in Creative Writing from UCLA, is also the author of Sitting Still, and his essays on poets Jack Spicer and William Carlos Williams appeared in Manroot and Thoth: Graduate Studies in English (Syracuse University).

Rescue & Jessica: A Life-Changing Friendship by Jessica Kensky and Patrick Downes (Candlewick, $17)

On the eve of the fifth anniversary of the Boston Marathon bombing comes a book that exemplifies how living with disability can be life-changing and life-affirming. The book, Rescue & Jessica: A Life-Changing Friendship, by newlyweds who stopped to cheer on runners at the historic marathon is written for children but is a valuable read for everyone. The illustrations by Scott Magoon are equally inspiring and charming. Check out this segment from The Today Show about the couple and the dog named Rescue.

The Boy Who Loved Too Much

The Boy Who Loved Too Much by Jennifer Latson (Simon & Schuster, 290 pages, $26)

In a recent review in The Wall Street Journal, journalist John Donvan wrote about this fascinating book titled The Boy Who Loved Too Much: A True Story of Pathological Friendliness by Jennifer Latson, which gives an account of Williams syndrome, a genetic condition that affects cardiovascular function, visual perception, dexterity, growth, lifespan and learning ability, he says, adding, "But another symptom is always evident as well—a craving for amicable human contact, what Ms. Latson calls an "insatiable drive to connect."' Donvan, who co-authored the groundbreaking volume In A Different Key: The Story of Autism with Caren Zucker, praises the book, especially Ms. Latson's discussion of the way our society accepts difference and also her "efforts to explore the importance of social contexts in shaping the experience of people with Williams." Go to his review to read more.


It's Not Yet Dark by Simon Fitzmaurice (Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, 176 pages)


It’s Not Yet Dark, the touching and inspirational memoir by filmmaker and ALS sufferer, Simon Fitzmaurice. At the age of 33, Fitzmaurice was a promising filmmaker and a father of two young boys, with a third on the way. So when his foot went numb and an ALS diagnosis swiftly upended his world, he made the bold decision to go against medical advice and rely on a ventilator to survive. Despite his compromised abilities, he continues to write and direct movies and even conceived twins with his wife—“the ultimate expression of being alive,” he says. 

A #1 bestseller upon its initial release in Ireland, It’s Not Yet Dark was written using an eye-gaze computer and tells the heartbreaking yet hopeful story of a man forced to consider what constitutes a life.  Told in simply expressed and beautifully stark prose, it is an astonishing journey into a life that, though brutally compromised, is lived more fully than most, revealing at its core the potent power love has to carry us through the days. Fitzmaurice’s incredible ability to laugh, create, and simply carry on in the face of tragedy is sure to mesmerize and move you.