Wednesday, March 12, 2008


This wasn't a personal choice in reading material. Rather, it was assigned for my Law&Lit class. Even so, wow...great book.

For those of you who don't know the story, it's written by Jean-Dominique Bauby, a former editor of French ELLE. At the age of forty-three, he suffered a massive stroke that left him completely paralyzed--permanently. His one and only form of communication was the ability to blink his left eye. Using a system of eye blinks, he wrote this book--a memoir of his experiences, post stroke.

In one last twist of fate, he died just two days after it was published.


This is an extremely fast read. Yet within this short book, he was able to convey so much. The frustration of non-communication, the pain of not being able to move--not to hug your kids, nor to bat away a fly hellbent on using your nose for a perch. And this is only scraping the surface.

Yet, underneath it all, his sense of humor is always there.

He makes me feel like a complete schlump for not always remembering how good I've got it.

Buy or Rent? BUY. (Oh, and there's a movie, apparently. I think it might be worth the price of admission.)


Deniz Bevan said...

Oh goody, Jen, finally someone who can answer my burning question: how in heck does he communicate by blinking? I mean, how do him and his note-taker/typist decide what combination of blinks means what? One blink for a? two for b? five for I Love You? I'm dying to know!
(word verification: wpoefy. If that's not a word, I wish it was)

Jennifer Hendren said...


Aha -- I wondered the same thing. First, he ranked letters by usage -- most used letter first, and so forth.


Then when he was speaking to someone or his typist was there, they would read through the list. When they hit the letter he wanted, he blinked.

I can only imagine how tedious the process must've been. In his book, he mentions how he would run through his sentences every morning, perfecting them as much as possible so that the session would go smoothly. Amazing.