I was sad to learn that doctor and author Sherwin B. Nuland died last month. His amazing book How We Die, which won the National Book Award, had a powerful effect on me. In it Nuland took the top five causes of death and then showed exactly how one dies from each of these things.
Don’t read the next part if you don’t want to know the truth, and the truth is not pretty: he showed how a death with dignity is pretty much impossible to achieve. Death is messy and scary and painful and horrible. That said, it’s a moving and compassionate book. I was able to take a few sentences from the section about murder and quote them in The Restless Sleep, my book about unsolved murder, in order to give comfort to the parent of a murdered child. Believe it or not, there was actually comfort to be had there.
Here’s his obituary from the New York Times. It ends as Nuland’s book ends:
“And so, if the classic image of dying with dignity must be modified or even discarded,” he wrote, “what is to be salvaged of our hope for the final memories we leave to those who love us? The dignity we seek in dying must be found in the dignity with which we have lived our lives.”
Other links: I watched and studied this brilliant panel from the always brilliant Randall Monroe and his web comic xkcd, “a webcomic of romance, sarcasm, math, and language.” I thought Randall would be ruling the world by now. Oh god. He probably IS.
Photographer Elizabeth Herman. Her work from “A Woman’s War” was deservedly featured in the Times. The pictures and testimonies from her subjects woke me up and enlightened me in a way that the news never does.
Finally, for the life of me I can’t remember how I came across this guy’s blog, but he posts a lot about music, reads the same books I do, (he recently posted about Matt Taibbi’s new book, which I haven’t read, technically, but I’m going to!) and comes across as such a smart, informed, charming, likable guy. His “about” section doesn’t say a word! The blog is called: A Year of Guys ~ Talking with Silas, John, J.S., Spencer, Manny, and the Fed.
Here’s his first post, where he explains the intention behind his blog. I was hoping he’d say his name! I just searched on “music” and now I know how I came across his blog. In my daily narcissistic frenzy, when I scour the internet to see how my book is doing, I found a post about my book on his blog (he was a couple of chapters in and liked it so far). Mystery solved. Bottom line: it’s a blog worth following.
Balloons. I love taking picture of people trying to make their way through the city carrying tons of balloons.