Together in Spirit

An online reading group ('TIS a reading group!) to bring together friends, and friends of friends, who aren't able to be in a conventional reading group due to constraints of time or geography.

Thursday, December 03, 2009

Jean-Dominique Bauby

I found this book most affecting on several fronts. The writing painted very clear pictures of the author's personal situation, his feelings frustrations, discomforts and the complete loss of control of any part of his day and his dependance on the varying levels of skill and understanding of his carers and the committment of his therapists. Such a lot depended on the carer's thoughtfulness. Just turning off the television neither too soon nor too late made a difference to the quality of the day. It's an old joke ,waking up the patient to give him some sleeping pills, but for various reasons, does happen.

He was obviously a talented and successful journalist so I suppose used to getting to the heart of a story with clarity, but I found the use of language and rhythm of the writng quite poetic in its meaning and flow. Each word had to earn its keep. One is not aware that it is a translation.

Val and Pella mentioned the chapter on the alphabet, which turned these functionaries from everyday tools to friends with characters, which to Jean-Do they were. It stood out for me too. I could imagine also the patients in the rehabilitaion room, like a row of onions waving their various limbs who had such a great interest in the possibility of a fire. Jean-Dominique was made painfully aware of his plight by the reaction and glances of others but when he saw himself in a mirror he saw that he looked horrible but also had fear in his eyes which said such a lot.

It is remarkable that the author managed to retain such determination to start the Locked in Syndrome Assn to still have some purpose in life and with great effort carry on his correspondance. How true it is, however, 'improved resuscitation techniques have refined and prolonged the agony' instead of simply dying

The DVD was fairly faithful to the book. I could not see why he was given a third child and Florence, the current girlfriend, was given greater prominence. I wonder if she really failed to visit. It was thoughtfully done and told the story just as sensitively. It was very much the type of French film I enjoy, and a genre that suited the subject matter totally.