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Cory Taylor is one of Australia’s celebrated novelists, the author of the brilliant Me and Mr Booker (winner of the Commonwealth Writers Prize, Pacific region), and My Beautiful Enemy (shortlisted for the Miles Franklin Award). At the age of sixty, she is dying of melanoma-related brain cancer. Her illness is no longer treatable. As she tells us in her remarkable last book, Cory Taylor is one of Australia’s celebrated novelists, the author of the brilliant Me and Mr Booker (winner of the Commonwealth Writers Prize, Pacific region), and My Beautiful Enemy (shortlisted for the Miles Franklin Award). At the age of sixty, she is dying of melanoma-related brain cancer. Her illness is no longer treatable. As she tells us in her remarkable last book, Dying: A Memoir, she now weighs less than her neighbour’s retriever. Written in the space of a few weeks, in a tremendous creative surge, this powerful and beautifully written book is a clear-eyed account of what dying has taught Cory: she describes the tangle of her feelings, she reflects on her life, and she remembers the lives and deaths of her parents. She tells us why she would like to be able to choose the circumstances of her own death. Dying: A Memoir is a breathtaking book about vulnerability and strength, courage and humility, anger and acceptance. It is a deeply affecting meditation on dying, but it is also a funny and wise tribute to life.


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Cory Taylor is one of Australia’s celebrated novelists, the author of the brilliant Me and Mr Booker (winner of the Commonwealth Writers Prize, Pacific region), and My Beautiful Enemy (shortlisted for the Miles Franklin Award). At the age of sixty, she is dying of melanoma-related brain cancer. Her illness is no longer treatable. As she tells us in her remarkable last book, Cory Taylor is one of Australia’s celebrated novelists, the author of the brilliant Me and Mr Booker (winner of the Commonwealth Writers Prize, Pacific region), and My Beautiful Enemy (shortlisted for the Miles Franklin Award). At the age of sixty, she is dying of melanoma-related brain cancer. Her illness is no longer treatable. As she tells us in her remarkable last book, Dying: A Memoir, she now weighs less than her neighbour’s retriever. Written in the space of a few weeks, in a tremendous creative surge, this powerful and beautifully written book is a clear-eyed account of what dying has taught Cory: she describes the tangle of her feelings, she reflects on her life, and she remembers the lives and deaths of her parents. She tells us why she would like to be able to choose the circumstances of her own death. Dying: A Memoir is a breathtaking book about vulnerability and strength, courage and humility, anger and acceptance. It is a deeply affecting meditation on dying, but it is also a funny and wise tribute to life.

30 review for Dying: A Memoir

  1. 5 out of 5

    Paul Bryant

    This year two of my close friends were diagnosed with terminal cancer. One was my fittest friend, the guy who ran regular half-marathons and swam and cycled and jogged every day. But the thing is, four or was it five of his uncles, aunts and parents died of cancer at around his age, so it looks like a genetic thing. The other friend is the guy who really should have quit smoking 20 years ago when he managed to beat lymphoma, but he didn’t, so now he has throat cancer. Talk about a strange time – This year two of my close friends were diagnosed with terminal cancer. One was my fittest friend, the guy who ran regular half-marathons and swam and cycled and jogged every day. But the thing is, four or was it five of his uncles, aunts and parents died of cancer at around his age, so it looks like a genetic thing. The other friend is the guy who really should have quit smoking 20 years ago when he managed to beat lymphoma, but he didn’t, so now he has throat cancer. Talk about a strange time – both these friends aren’t especially ill, they have a couple of mild symptoms, that’s all. But the sentence has been pronounced by the nice oncologist. There’s a chilling conversation opener for you – “Please take a seat, I have your test results here.” So this tough-minded little memoir came out recently and I thought okay, I will read that. It turns out that Cory Taylor, like me, like my friends, has no faith, so you don’t get any of the spiritual soft soap other memoirists with kindlier outlooks might have doled out. A lot of Cory’s memoir is about her very difficult father, and some of it is about what’s called assisted suicide. She says I’ve heard it said that modern dying means dying more, dying over longer periods, enduring more uncertainty, subjecting ourselves and our families to more disappointments and despair. As we are enabled to live longer we are also condemned to die longer. So, she says, why not bring some compassion into this process and let people decide when the time has come for themselves? But this is not a feisty polemical work, it’s one from the heart. Dying depends on your attitude. Two statistics came out recently in Britain – one says that for people born after 1960, 50% will get cancer. The other says that dementia is now the leading cause of death in the UK. Whew, pretty grim, right? Well, no – because what this means is that people in Britain are living much longer. The doctors decided that dementia should now be recorded as a cause of death (previously it wasn’t, some secondary cause was recorded). And the non-dementia old people have got to die of something. So these dementia and cancer deaths are of people in their 80s and 90s. That’s okay but what kind of life are these very old people living? They ain’t all twinkling David Attenboroughs, clambering through the jungle to bestow his blessing on a golden tamarind or a shy pangolin at the age of nearly 91, or Dame Vera Lynn getting a No 1 album at the age of 92 (a record which will be hard to break). Contemplating dying makes you contemplate living. PLAYLIST I had enough thinking about the grim reaper for a while, so I put my ipod on and pressed shuffle. There was The Beatles, ah good, they usually cheer you up don’t they Father McKenzie, wiping the dirt From his hands as he walks from the grave No one was saved All the lonely people Where do they all come from? Then there was a folk song – well, they can be grim “Oh, what is this I cannot see With that dread hand held hold of me?” “Oh, I am death, none can excel, I opens the doors of heaven and hell.” “Oh Death, oh Death, how can it be That I must come and go with thee? Oh Death, oh Death, how can it be? I am unprepared for eternity.” “I'll lock your jaw so you can't talk, I'll fix your feet so you can't walk, I'll close your eyes so you can't see, And this very hour come and go with me.” Ouch. Then Blind Lemon Jefferson came on – he’s an old blues guy After him came Hank Williams – uh oh Won't you redeem your poor wicked soul You can't pay your way with Silver and Gold If you're not saved you'll be lost in the night When the Pale Horse and his rider goes by Thanks, Hank. And Buffy Sainte Marie roaring out Feelin' funny in my mind Lord, I believe I'm fixin' to die Well I don't mind dyin' but I hate to leave my children cryin' And finally the elegant Scott Walker singing a Jacques Brel translation My death waits like a beggar blind who sees the world with an unlit mind throw him a dime for the passing time My death waits to allow my friends a few good times before it ends let's drink to that and the passing time My death waits in your arms, your thighs your cool fingers will close my eyes let's not talk about the passing time My death waits among the falling leaves in magicians’ mysterious sleeves rabbits, dogs and the passing times Not sure I get all that, but I got the drift. Popular music which you might think is there to cheer us up and make up tap our tootsies and dwell upon the pleasantries and vicissitudes of romance is pretty unflinching too. Not to mention the mayhem passing by on our screens in the form of dramatic entertainment, bodies falling every five minutes or so. Not to mention the evening news. Death is life. Lovers will leave, your children will move away and rarely call, you can even fall out with your best friend, but the bony armed one is going nowhere, the one faithful companion we all have. So I guess we have to make up a pallet on our floor, set up another place at the breakfast nook, get used to him somehow. Stop jumping every time he hangs his bony fingers round your neck. This charmless companion is what makes us human. You won’t see donkeys worrying about dementia or elephants about elephantiasis. He’s our thing not theirs and he’s going nowhere until we do.

  2. 5 out of 5

    Rebecca

    (3.5) “I haven’t died before, so I sometimes get a bad case of beginner’s nerves, but they soon pass.” Cory Taylor (who died in July) was an Australian novelist first diagnosed with stage-four melanoma in 2005; after the cancer metastasized she underwent brain surgery but the end was clearly approaching. She ordered suicide drugs online but it never came to that; instead, she kept the drugs as a kind of insurance policy lest her philosophical shrugs and general good humor failed her. In trying to (3.5) “I haven’t died before, so I sometimes get a bad case of beginner’s nerves, but they soon pass.” Cory Taylor (who died in July) was an Australian novelist first diagnosed with stage-four melanoma in 2005; after the cancer metastasized she underwent brain surgery but the end was clearly approaching. She ordered suicide drugs online but it never came to that; instead, she kept the drugs as a kind of insurance policy lest her philosophical shrugs and general good humor failed her. In trying to come to terms with dying she met with a psychiatrist (who classified her problem as “adjustment disorder”), Buddhist nuns, and a home-nursing volunteer who came to record her biography but then herself died of a sudden stroke. She also agreed to take part in an episode of the television program “You Can’t Ask That” in which she would answer the 10 most popular questions sent in by viewers. Though rather clichéd – Do you have a bucket list? Are you scared? What will you miss the most? – these questions are a useful way of organizing her thoughts about death in the first part of the book. Later on she delves into her childhood: a pilot father with a chip on his shoulder; visits to her mother’s home in the Bush; a time living in Fiji; her parents’ divorce and her difficulty keeping up a relationship with her father. I was reminded of Stefan Zweig’s Burning Secret in the section where she talks about her growing adolescent awareness of sex: “Once desire had entered my sights, I started to notice it everywhere, even in my parents, who seemed more vulnerable the closer I looked, susceptible in ways I’d never suspected before, and not in full control of their faculties. Even their bodies appeared ready to betray them at any moment.” The problem with having lived a nomadic life, Taylor reveals (especially so after she married a Japanese man and spent significant time at a second home in Japan), is that she isn’t sure where “home” is. Where should her ashes be scattered? Does it matter? Ultimately she decides that whatever is done with her body and effects is more of a decision for her husband and sons to make; it’s up to the living to decide how she will be remembered. If this memoir is ultimately somewhat fragmentary, that is almost certainly a result of it being written against the clock (within six months, certainly). All the same, I think it succeeds in presenting the trajectory of a life and baring the soul in the face of death. Favorite passage: It’s often said that life is short. But life is also simultaneous, all of our experiences existing in time together, in the flesh. For what are we, if not a body taking a mind for a walk, just to see what’s there? … I am a girl and I am a dying woman. My body is my journey, the truest record of all I have done and seen, the site of all my joys and heartbreaks, of all my misapprehensions and blinding insights. If I feel the need to relive the journey it is all there written in runes on my body. Even my cells remember it, all that sunshine I bathed in as a child, too much as it turned out.

  3. 4 out of 5

    Marianne

    “…I will miss being around to see what happens next, how things turn out, whether my children’s lives will prove as lucky as my own. But I will not miss dying. It is by far the hardest thing I have ever done, and I will be glad when it’s over” Dying: a Memoir is Cory Taylor’s last book. Cory writes that she is sixty years old and dying of a melanoma-related brain cancer, and says: “…in this, my final book: I am making a shape for my death, so that I, and others, can see it clearly. And I am makin “…I will miss being around to see what happens next, how things turn out, whether my children’s lives will prove as lucky as my own. But I will not miss dying. It is by far the hardest thing I have ever done, and I will be glad when it’s over” Dying: a Memoir is Cory Taylor’s last book. Cory writes that she is sixty years old and dying of a melanoma-related brain cancer, and says: “…in this, my final book: I am making a shape for my death, so that I, and others, can see it clearly. And I am making dying bearable for myself”. When an author like Taylor turns her literary talent to a memoir on dying, the reader can expect it to be insightful, intelligent and even thought-provoking: “We are all just a millimetre away from death, all of the time, if only we knew it”. She observes: “A sudden death cuts out all the preliminaries, but I imagine it leaves behind a terrible regret for all things left permanently unspoken. A slow death, like mine, has one advantage. You have a lot of time to talk, to tell people how you feel, to try to make sense of the whole thing, of the life that is coming to a close, both for yourself, and those who remain” What the reader might not expect from this subject is to laugh out loud, quite often: “If I’m afraid of anything it’s of dying badly, of getting caught up in some process that prolongs my life unnecessarily. I’ve put all the safeguards in place….My doctor has promised to honour my wishes, but I can’t help worrying. I haven’t died before, so I sometimes get a bad case of beginner’s nerves, but they soon pass”. Not unexpectedly, much of the humour is black. Taylor explores the euthanasia debate, and comments on the way Western society deals with the subject of death and dying (usually, not very well). For these observations alone, this book should be compulsory reading for the medical profession, especially those involved with palliative care. She also relates her experience with the deaths of those close to her, and reflects on her life. Her earliest ambition was to be a writer: “The letters of the alphabet had this power. If you learned to draw them well and order them in the right way, you could tell anybody anything you liked, make a picture for them out of words, make them see what you saw”. This, as evidenced by awards and accolades won, was achieved in spades, so on the subject of regrets, she says she has none. Honest, profound and deeply moving. 4.5★s

  4. 5 out of 5

    Canadian Reader

    “I was as under-prepared as anyone could be. It was as if I had stumbled out of a land of make-believe into the realm of the real. That is why I started writing this book. Things are not as they should be. For so many of us, death has become the unmentionable thing, a monstrous silence.But this is no help to the dying, who are probably lonelier now than they’ve ever been. At least that’s how it feels to me.” “while my body is careering towards catastrophe, my mind is elsewhere, concentrated on th “I was as under-prepared as anyone could be. It was as if I had stumbled out of a land of make-believe into the realm of the real. That is why I started writing this book. Things are not as they should be. For so many of us, death has become the unmentionable thing, a monstrous silence.But this is no help to the dying, who are probably lonelier now than they’ve ever been. At least that’s how it feels to me.” “while my body is careering towards catastrophe, my mind is elsewhere, concentrated on this other, vital task, which is to tell you something meaningful before I go.” Before her death in July 2016 from metastatic melanoma, Australian writer Cory Taylor penned a beautiful, calm, uncluttered memoir. In it, she contemplated dying— what the end holds, of course, but also the miracle and richness of being in the world. Years before her mother was to succumb to dementia, she had spoken to Cory about “the voluntary euthanasia movement” which advocates for a person’s right to determine the time of his or her own death—before debilitation and/or loss of cognitive function make such deliberations impossible. Unfortunately, Taylor admits, she hadn’t much listened to her mother, who was still a vital and active woman at the time. Some years later, Taylor would see this admirable woman gravely ill, barely recognizable—in fact, “clinging onto a bathroom basin with all of her meagre strength” while a young nurse wiped her bottom. “The look in my mother’s eyes as she turned and saw me watching,” Taylor writes, “reminded me of an animal in unspeakable torment.” Little wonder, then, that with her own demise imminent, she ordered a euthanasia drug from China which could summon death to do its work more quickly. She had qualms about using the drug (the effect such a death would have on her family was just too painful to contemplate), and, in fact, did not end up doing so, but it at least provided her with some measure of control. Taylor marvels at her having made it into her sixties—it’s even more remarkable, really, when one considers that her diagnosis of stage-four melanoma came just before her fiftieth birthday. Melanoma is perhaps the swiftest of malignant cancers. Taylor was an outlier, for sure. She feelingly observes what is often stated: life is tremendously fragile. Any one of us can be taken suddenly and with apparent randomness—at any moment. All of us experience any number of close calls. The palliative-care services Taylor received interestingly included a volunteer biographer whose job was to listen and record key events and memories of the terminally ill patient. The recollections were to be collated and presented to the bereaved family after their beloved’s death. Taylor was tended to by the wise and extraordinary Susan Addison, who had lost a teenaged son to brain cancer years before and who had herself published a memoir on the subject. Sadly, Addison died suddenly in the midst of the project. About Addison’s unexpected death Taylor reflects: “I was sorry we hadn’t recorded her life story instead of mine during our meetings. I was sorry she hadn’t had the same chance I’ve had, to say a long goodbye to those she loved, or to prepare them for life without her, to the extent that that is possible. […] A slow death, like mine, has that one advantage. You have a lot of time to talk, to tell people how you feel, to try to make sense of the whole thing, of the life that is coming to a close, both for yourself and for those who remain.” Taylor’s memoir is infused with love and concern for her grown sons and her Japanese artist husband, Shin. She acknowledges the great gift of Shin, who she says has nurtured and cared for her devotedly and whose steadiness and good humour have ensured her sanity. Her own life-affirming union leads her to reflect on the hardships of her mother, who lost her great love, a part-Chinese pilot whom the family frowned upon, when he was shot down in his plane during World War II. She married Gordon Taylor, Cory’s father, instead. To a significant extent, his inner demons would hold his family—particularly his wife—in their depressive grip for years. A great deal of the second half of this short book is dedicated to the author’s parents and their unhappy marriage, which ultimately ended in divorce. Taylor’s difficult father was a restless man, a pilot who had also flown in the war. He was plagued by mental illness, which mostly manifested itself in extended black moods (and often lengthy retreats to his bed) punctuated by angry outbursts. The family was dragged to any number of locations—Indonesia, Fiji, and Kenya, among them—as Gordon frequently changed jobs. There were, apparently, endless opportunities for pilots after the war as the aviation industry was “taking off” so to speak, but disenchantment tended to descend quickly on Gordon, and the family would be uprooted yet again. Taylor herself was largely untroubled by the constant moves. It was all she knew, she said. Finally, however, her mother had simply had enough, and initiated divorce proceedings—something highly unusual in that day and age. University-educated, she supported her family with her work as a high-school teacher. Taylor laments that her relationship with her older brother and sister was characterized by the fractures and distance that had plagued her mother’s family. Taylor’s grandmother, Ril, had been a restless, unhappy woman who chafed against life on a large farm in the outback. The author feels she inherited something of Ril’s (and Gordon’s) restlessness and desire for adventure—though, it would appear, less of the darkness and distress. For Cory, travel was not the compulsion it had been for Gordon (who was attempting to placate his demons with it) but an opportunity to take in the richness and variety the world offered. Though Susan Addison sadly did not see Taylor’s biography to completion, its subject managed to create her own final gift of writing to her family and to the larger world of readers. Written by a vital, observant woman, the book tells us something meaningful indeed—just as its author intended. Memorable Quotations “Writing, even if most of the time you are only doing it in your head, shapes the world, and makes it bearable.” “as the British psychotherapist and essayist Adam Phillips says, we are all haunted by the life not lived, by the belief that we’ve missed out on something different and better. […] The problem with reverie is that you always assume you know how the unlived life turns out. And it is always a better version of the the life you’ve actually lived […]more significant and purposeful […]impossibly free of setbacks and mishaps.” “It’s often said that life is short. But life is also simultaneous, all of our experience existing in time together in the flesh. For what are we, if not a body taking a mind for a walk, just to see what’s there? And, in the end, where do we get if not back to a beginning we’ve never really left behind? Time present and time past/Are both perhaps present in time future/And time future contained in time past. It is all, according to T.S. Eliot, the same thing. I am a girl and I am a dying woman. My body is my journey, the truest record of all I have done and seen, the site of all my joys and heartbreaks, of all my misapprehensions and blinding. If I feel the need to relive the journey it is all there written in runes on my body. Even my cells remember it, all that sunshine I bathed in as a child, too much as it turned out.In my beginning is my end.”

  5. 4 out of 5

    Michael

    Cory Taylor is one of Australia's most famed authors. With two books that have won and been shortlisted for awards, she has made her own niche in our literary landscape. Know though Cory, who has been battling melanoma-related brain cancer for the last decade, is facing the reality that she will soon die. It is with this knowledge that Cory explains to us how she went from one fear and disbelief to find peace and accepting of her fate. The book itself is divided into two section with first on he Cory Taylor is one of Australia's most famed authors. With two books that have won and been shortlisted for awards, she has made her own niche in our literary landscape. Know though Cory, who has been battling melanoma-related brain cancer for the last decade, is facing the reality that she will soon die. It is with this knowledge that Cory explains to us how she went from one fear and disbelief to find peace and accepting of her fate. The book itself is divided into two section with first on her own thoughts on death that has been greatly influenced by her years spent in Japan. Cory's thought process is also greatly influenced by the loss of her mother and the regret of not being with her when she died and her own realization that she is now living on borrowed time. Secondly, she explains a fractured family life full of non-stop travel, the disintegration of her parent's love and the disconnect with her brothers that remains to this day. Cory Taylor is someone who has strong views about dying with dignity in this country. She is an advocate of euthanasia and is not afraid to talk about it. Her question of why someone who wishes to take their own life when terminally ill has to do so alone is one that hits right at the heart of a debate that rages on. While we all have our on personal view on the subject of death, It is not hard to admire someone who knows her battle is coming to an end and has taken it in good faith along with her family. With joy, sorrow, and understanding, this book is both a celebration of life and an acknowledgment of its uncertainty.

  6. 5 out of 5

    Nigel

    In brief - There is - for me - a real beauty and simplicity in this brief but powerful book. In full Can a book about Dying be considered beautiful? If I had any doubts on that Cory Taylor has removed them. The memoir starts with the simple facts that in her fifties she is diagnosed with inoperable brain cancer. There are three chapters in this short book and the first was powerful for me. There is rational contemplation of suicide together with the possible consequences as well as comments on org In brief - There is - for me - a real beauty and simplicity in this brief but powerful book. In full Can a book about Dying be considered beautiful? If I had any doubts on that Cory Taylor has removed them. The memoir starts with the simple facts that in her fifties she is diagnosed with inoperable brain cancer. There are three chapters in this short book and the first was powerful for me. There is rational contemplation of suicide together with the possible consequences as well as comments on organisations dealing with assisted dying. She has thoughts on religion and dying and psychologists and dying. Her life before her diagnosis is contemplated particularly writing and travel (and food!). I found this thoughtful intelligent discussion on her situation - dying - thought provoking. The second chapter looks at her close family's life and background. There are ups and downs and probably things that all our imperfect lives are affected by. The third part starts with reflections on Cory's childhood particularly in Fiji. Her growing awareness of various aspects of life are exposed. Issues with her parents and particularly her father are looked at surprisingly calmly I think. That said the whole of this book exudes calmness for me. Beauty, love, fear, dreams are in all our lives in some ways however her writing on these was both simple and moving - it is about a life progressing to its end. I really wish my writing could do justice to this last chapter - sadly I am not the writer Cory was however I loved it. This reliving her life, considering the circularity of life "in my beginning is my end", was powerful and beautiful. It ends with a "script for an ending". If you are someone who one day may die (…) then you may find this book a thoughtful and emotional read - I would recommend it. Note - I received an advance digital copy of this book from the publisher in exchange for a fair review http://viewson.org.uk/non-fiction/dyi...

  7. 4 out of 5

    Heather

    Again... another memoir I've rated below 3 stars. I almost feel like I'm being disrespectful rating this so low, but this is NOT what I expected at all. Considering the title of this book is "Dying", I had apparently mistaken that to mean it would be about her dying. 2/3 of the book were about her childhood. In particular, her love and admiration for her mother, general disdain for her father and indifference about her siblings. While I can understand how it would make sense to throw in some Again... another memoir I've rated below 3 stars. I almost feel like I'm being disrespectful rating this so low, but this is NOT what I expected at all. Considering the title of this book is "Dying", I had apparently mistaken that to mean it would be about her dying. 2/3 of the book were about her childhood. In particular, her love and admiration for her mother, general disdain for her father and indifference about her siblings. While I can understand how it would make sense to throw in some back story about her life-- and I would've gladly accepted that-- it wasn't about her entire life, just about her childhood. So, I feel like, if she included her childhood, she should have also included the time when her childhood ended up until the time of her death. There were only rare tidbits of her middle ages, and her failure to include that part of her life doesn't make a lot of sense to me, especially considering how fervently she prattled on about her childhood. Part One was about dying. The rest was not. It sounds cold and heartless to sit here and complain about how she didn't discuss dying for most of the novel, but it's implied in the title that it's about DYING. In my life, as I assume in many peoples, death is a difficult subject to discuss. It's uncomfortable, to say the very least. So my curiosity was piqued by a novel written by someone who is actively dying, and could discuss it in an open enough way to discourage the idea that it's too taboo to talk about. I am very frustrated with this book because I was excited about the premise, I was excited after reading part one, and then the flame of my excitement swiftly fizzled out. I think I might have felt more satisfied had she only written part one and just ended it there. I don't see any real reason for the rest of the book to exist... *SIGH* I had such high hopes for this book. On a side note - I LOVE the cover and the size of the book!

  8. 5 out of 5

    Emma Sea

    "I haven't died before, sometimes I get a bad case of beginner's nerves." Such a lovely book. I cried, and then I cried some more when I learned she died in hospice right after it was published. I wonder what happened to her stockpile of powdered Chinese insurance plan. It's so entirely immoral so many humans are denied the right to choose a safe and peaceful end. "I haven't died before, sometimes I get a bad case of beginner's nerves." Such a lovely book. I cried, and then I cried some more when I learned she died in hospice right after it was published. I wonder what happened to her stockpile of powdered Chinese insurance plan. It's so entirely immoral so many humans are denied the right to choose a safe and peaceful end.

  9. 5 out of 5

    Melora

    Cory Taylor was born in 1955, and she died of cancer in 2016. Sixty-one seems awfully young to die, especially from my vantage point of fifty-two, and Taylor certainly thought it was premature. She had books she still hoped to write, children she wanted to see established in their adult lives, … plans. And yet, she considers her approaching death with grace and gratitude, refusing, much as Christopher Hitchens did in his death memoir, "Mortality," to snatch up at the last minute religious belief Cory Taylor was born in 1955, and she died of cancer in 2016. Sixty-one seems awfully young to die, especially from my vantage point of fifty-two, and Taylor certainly thought it was premature. She had books she still hoped to write, children she wanted to see established in their adult lives, … plans. And yet, she considers her approaching death with grace and gratitude, refusing, much as Christopher Hitchens did in his death memoir, "Mortality," to snatch up at the last minute religious beliefs she had found implausible while in good health or indulge in complaints about “unfairness.” She dreads the growing suffering and incapacity she knows is approaching, but her love for her husband and sons and her concern for their feelings outweighs her fear and keeps her from using the packet of poison she ordered during her investigation into suicide. Comparing her own death to that of a friend's son, who died at nineteen, Taylor says “the fact that I was dying now was sad, but not tragic. I had lived a full life.” Much of this “memoir” is about Taylor's parents, whose unhappy marriage left lasting marks on their children, and whose miserable deaths play strongly in her considerations of her own priorities, both in living and in dying. Taylor was close to her mother, and watching this beloved parent die horribly of dementia encouraged her to investigate assisted suicide and then less abrupt methods of dying with the greatest possible measure of dignity and comfort. About her mother's death Taylor writes, "She was in a nursing home when she died, a place of such unremitting despair it was a test of my willpower just to walk through the front door. The last time I saw her, I stood helplessly by while she had her arse wiped clean by a young Japanese nurse. My mother was clinging on to a bathroom basin with all of her meagre strength, while the nurse applied a fresh nappy to her withered behind. The look in my mother's eyes as she turned and saw me watching reminded me of an animal in unspeakable torment. At that moment I wished for death to take her quickly, to stop the torture that had become her daily life. But still it went on, for a dozen more months, her body persisting while her mind had long since vacated the premises. I could not think of anything more cruel and unnecessary. I knew I had cancer by then, and a part of me was grateful. At least I would be spared a death like my mother's, I reasoned. That was something to celebrate." With my own mom currently dying of lung cancer and dementia, this naturally caught my attention. Her view, that the cancer is preferable, matches my own suspicions as I've watched my mother's long decline into increasingly helpless silence from Progressive Nonfluent Aphasia, a form of FTD, and now her rapidly increasing weakness and pain with the cancer. The slow, dehumanizing darkness of dementia or the suffocating pain of the cancer. Of course, my “opinion” on the matter is irrelevant, as well as ill-informed, but I figure that Taylor, at least, had solid insight in that matter and I'm going to take her judgment as a small measure of comfort. Lest my comments make this sound unremittingly dark, I should say again that Taylor really is not morbid, and her love for her husband, children, and other family, and her gratitude for the life she has lived shine through her book. Her admiration for her mother is a constant, and one of my favorite images in the book, which is filled with memorable images, is from an evening in Taylor's childhood, when she and her mother were taking a trip around the main island of Fiji, visiting beaches. She says, ”My mother took me out for a reef walk, to the very edge, where the reef drops away and the water changes from turquoise green to blue-black. The surf out there was pounding, the wind was blustery, and I wanted us to turn around and go home. But my mother stood firm, a wild grin on her face, her hair whipping around her head, her arms outstretched. “Just look where we are!” she shouted, spinning around to take in the sweep of the beach behind us. I realized then how far we had walked, how tiny we must look from the land, two dots against the horizon. And I felt a surge of love for my mother, as if at that moment I might lose her to a rogue wave or a shallow swimming shark, for I knew they were out there cruising in the black water, just metres away. “The sun's going down,” I said. “Time to go.” And so we made our way in, the tide rising around our feet and the sky turning mauve then orange then molten yellow.” I love that joyous, free dance at the edge of the void, fearless but tempered by love and kindness. That really stood out for me in this. Taylor has no moral or religious qualms about suicide, but she is deterred by the thought of what that act might do to the people she cares for. As I'm sure most people do, I think about the narrative shape I imagine for my life, and in connection to this I was rather taken by a service that Taylor tells about her palliative care service providing. Her agency sent out volunteer “biographers,” who visited patients and recorded their stories, to eventually provide bound copies to the families. Taylor's biographer died unexpectedly, but, of course, her memoir accomplishes something of the same purpose, and the process, as well as the thought of the finished product, are therapeutic. A novelist and screenwriter, Taylor explains ”In fiction you can sometimes be looser and less tidy, but for much of the time you are choosing what to exclude from your fictional world in order to make it hold the line against chaos. And that is what I'm doing now, in this, my final book: I am making a shape for my death, so that I, and others, can see it clearly. And I am making dying bearable for myself. I don't know where I would be if I couldn't do this strange work. It has saved my life many times over the years, and it continues to do so now. For while my body is careering towards catastrophe, my mind is elsewhere, concentrated on this other, vital task, which is to tell you something meaningful before I go..” A brave, lovely book.

  10. 5 out of 5

    Eric

    It gives nothing away to write that Dying: A Memoir by Cory Taylor is about Cory Taylor's death from brain cancer. Cory Taylor was sixty years of age when she passed and from the description in her memoir she led an interesting life and had an interesting family. Taylor's memoir has nuggets of inspirational thoughts throughout the book, as well as insightful observations learned from the experiences in her life. One passage I especially felt poignant was, "How it ends I'm only now discovering. I It gives nothing away to write that Dying: A Memoir by Cory Taylor is about Cory Taylor's death from brain cancer. Cory Taylor was sixty years of age when she passed and from the description in her memoir she led an interesting life and had an interesting family. Taylor's memoir has nuggets of inspirational thoughts throughout the book, as well as insightful observations learned from the experiences in her life. One passage I especially felt poignant was, "How it ends I'm only now discovering. I can only speak for me, of course, and everyone is different, but dying slowly, as I'm doing, feels like a retreat from consciousness back to the oblivion that precedes it." Another observation of hers that struck me was how she explains all experiences in our life are actually simultaneous (from this I gathered she meant everything that we do and experience in our life stays with us and influences us through the rest of our life). This memoir possibly will have the largest impact upon those that have had fewer experiences with the process of dying and death of loved ones in their lives. Unfortunately, to others, like myself, many passages will be familiar. To me, this memoir was not depressing, but was instead a reaffirmation of my own beliefs when it comes to the process of death and dying.

  11. 5 out of 5

    Kkneen

    Perfectly structured, perfectly told. An unsentimental meditation on family, life and death. This is how I want to go out, having written one perfect book.

  12. 4 out of 5

    Gill

    'Dying' by Cory Taylor 3 stars/ 6 out of 10 I was interested in reading this short book because I have recently read an obituary of the author. Cory Taylor spent her latter years in Queensland, Australia. The first section of the book is primarily about her experiences and treatment after diagnosis with cancer. Perhaps because such experiences vary between countries, what Taylor described did not resonate with me. I found the middle section concerning Taylor's life and family much more interesting, 'Dying' by Cory Taylor 3 stars/ 6 out of 10 I was interested in reading this short book because I have recently read an obituary of the author. Cory Taylor spent her latter years in Queensland, Australia. The first section of the book is primarily about her experiences and treatment after diagnosis with cancer. Perhaps because such experiences vary between countries, what Taylor described did not resonate with me. I found the middle section concerning Taylor's life and family much more interesting, although I did feel that I was intruding on the lives of several of the family members. The final section looked back to Taylor's childhood, and was very reflective on her situation as she approached her final days. I found the book quite interesting, but there are other books on a similar theme that I have found more thought provoking and moving than this one. Thank you to Canongate Books and to NetGalley for an ARC.

  13. 4 out of 5

    Amalia Kidd

    I couldn't put this book down and read it from start to finish in one sitting. I was joined by a glass of wine for the final leg. Cory's prose is so honest and resonants with me on a deep level. She tackles those thoughts we'd rather not discuss. Her brutal honesty and most of all her humour keep this memoir real. Since reading it I have had many occasions to recommend it to others, who for a variety of reasons, are grappling with the questions that dying raises. The honesty, humour and deeply p I couldn't put this book down and read it from start to finish in one sitting. I was joined by a glass of wine for the final leg. Cory's prose is so honest and resonants with me on a deep level. She tackles those thoughts we'd rather not discuss. Her brutal honesty and most of all her humour keep this memoir real. Since reading it I have had many occasions to recommend it to others, who for a variety of reasons, are grappling with the questions that dying raises. The honesty, humour and deeply personal story make this a compelling read. Don't balk at the title- this is not s self help manual, rather it is a starkly honest and unshrinking staring down of death. My love and thoughts are with you Cory.

  14. 5 out of 5

    Glitterbomb

    "That is what I am doing now, in this, my final book: I am making a shape for my death, so that I, and others, can see it clearly. And I am making dying bearable for myself." What an extraordinary little book. Its brave and forthcoming, and asks all the hard questions. Cory Taylor wrote this in the final weeks of her life. She has let us, the reader, see into her inner self as she struggles to understand what it means to die. Taylor muses about her life, how it was a good one. She says "The fact "That is what I am doing now, in this, my final book: I am making a shape for my death, so that I, and others, can see it clearly. And I am making dying bearable for myself." What an extraordinary little book. Its brave and forthcoming, and asks all the hard questions. Cory Taylor wrote this in the final weeks of her life. She has let us, the reader, see into her inner self as she struggles to understand what it means to die. Taylor muses about her life, how it was a good one. She says "The fact that I am dying now was sad, but not tragic. I have lived a full life". She says she can look back at her life, and not yearn for what she didn't do, but instead find contentment in what she has. She explores the hard topics of the right to die, assisted dying, dying with dignity, and the right to choose. She relates her experiences with doctors, palliative care agencies, psychologists, religion and support groups - how the act of dying is somehow a taboo subject, even among services who's purpose is to ease and support the act of dying. This was a glimpse into to mind of someone who is preparing for their own death. A quietly dignified account of her journey to the end.

  15. 4 out of 5

    Kirsty

    Illness narratives are fast becoming my go-to books. I find reading about the process of dying both fascinating and humbling. From the outset, Taylor's memoir is incredibly well written. At no point is it self-pitying; rather, her tone is measured and hopeful, startling and truthful. Dying is both easy and difficult to read; the former because of its fluent prose style and the latter obviously because of its subject matter. Taylor is courageous, thorough and thoughtful, and has created an incred Illness narratives are fast becoming my go-to books. I find reading about the process of dying both fascinating and humbling. From the outset, Taylor's memoir is incredibly well written. At no point is it self-pitying; rather, her tone is measured and hopeful, startling and truthful. Dying is both easy and difficult to read; the former because of its fluent prose style and the latter obviously because of its subject matter. Taylor is courageous, thorough and thoughtful, and has created an incredibly important book. I shall leave you with one of my favourite quotes from Dying: 'But I'm used to dying now. It's become ordinary and unremarkable, something everybody, without exception, does at one time or another. If I'm afraid of anything it's of dying badly, of getting caught up in some process that prolongs my life unnecessarily.'

  16. 4 out of 5

    Ellen

    I will not miss dying. It is by far the hardest thing I have ever done, and I will be glad when it's over. There is a kind of reverence that comes with reading passages like this and knowing they were written in the final weeks of a life. This book is extremely personal – and, at times, profound. I will not miss dying. It is by far the hardest thing I have ever done, and I will be glad when it's over. There is a kind of reverence that comes with reading passages like this and knowing they were written in the final weeks of a life. This book is extremely personal – and, at times, profound.

  17. 4 out of 5

    Michael Livingston

    A short, clear-eyed memoir, written in the face of inoperable cancer. Sad, but not sentimental, and somehow hopeful in spite of everything.

  18. 4 out of 5

    Text Publishing

    ‘This is a powerful, poignant and lucid last testament, at once an eloquent plea for autonomy in death, and an evocation of the joys, sorrows and sheer unpredictability and precariousness of life. Taylor wonders if she has found the ‘right tone’ for her story. Her readers will find that she has. It’s a fine contribution to our much-needed dialogue with death.’ Margaret Drabble ‘Cory Taylor’s book is both a precise and moving memoir about the randomness of family, and an admirable intellectual resp ‘This is a powerful, poignant and lucid last testament, at once an eloquent plea for autonomy in death, and an evocation of the joys, sorrows and sheer unpredictability and precariousness of life. Taylor wonders if she has found the ‘right tone’ for her story. Her readers will find that she has. It’s a fine contribution to our much-needed dialogue with death.’ Margaret Drabble ‘Cory Taylor’s book is both a precise and moving memoir about the randomness of family, and an admirable intellectual response to the randomness of life and death. We should all hope for as vivid a looking-back, and as cogent a looking-forward, when we reach the end ourselves.’ Julian Barnes ‘This small, powerful book offers a clean engagement with life’s conclusion: with clarity and courage, the author finds words to escort us towards silence.’ Hilary Mantel ‘Funny, insightful and, most of all, consoling. It does what all great writing does: makes you instantly feel less alone. It’s the best thing I’ve read this year.’ Benjamin Law, Good Weekend ‘It takes courage to contemplate one’s death and extraordinary clarity and generosity to write about it like this. Dying: A Memoir is a gift to us all, a book that is not afraid to navigate darkness and that sees us through to the end…We need books like this, a guide to dying, but also, and especially, a guide to living.’ Australian Book Review ‘A fine and sorrowful finale.’ Sydney Morning Herald ‘[Taylor] commands a glorious structure and control. She arrives at “the edge of the words” and in her final paragraphs performs an alchemical transformation of her book’s imagery and metaphors and moments into something light and quite transcendent—the whole not only surpassing the sum of its parts but illuminating them with a magnificent blaze.’ Australian ‘Dying is a powerful, passionate, unflinching memoir about facing death and the choices and difficulty and beauty that entails. It should be required reading for all of us.’ Ann Hood, author of Comfort: A Journey Through Grief ‘A clear analysis of the dying process and another important contribution to the debate about drug assisted euthanasia… [Taylor’s] memoir offers as much insight and reflection as anyone could deliver in just 150 pages.’ HealthSpeak ‘Taylor’s challenging, touching, sad story about her dying, is a eulogic tribute to her immense talent, but one that leaves practical comfort to us all.’ Australian Women's Weekly ‘Along with the precision of her writing, it is Taylor’s lack of self-righteousness that lends this book its very special quality.’ Guardian ‘2016 has seen the publication of a number of exceptional books by beautiful writers whose poignant tales takes us right to the edge of the abyss.’ Best Books of 2016, Australian Financial Review ‘It takes courage to contemplate one’s death and extraordinary clarity and generosity to write about it like this. Dying: A Memoir is a gift to us all, a book that is not afraid to navigate darkness and that sees us through to the end…We need books like this, a guide to dying, but also, and especially, a guide to living.’ Australian Book Review ‘What is truly profound about this book is that—though it ought to be harrowing—it is astonishingly easy, if not strangely uplifting, to read. In part, this is because the narrative voice is so gentle, and tightly controlled. Every scene has a radiant quality; it glows.’ Conversation ‘…As this quietly remarkable book illustrates, that kind of looking entails its own tribute to the sweetness of life.’ Radio Australia ‘Unflinchingly honest…This deep meditation is beautifully written and destined to be an important piece of the conversation surrounding death. Taylor’s last testament to life is a welcome departing gift from a thoughtful and inspired author.’ Publishers Weekly, starred review ‘An eloquent plea for a more humane approach to death and a moving meditation on the life that leads to that end.’ Kirkus Reviews, starred review ‘Brave and funny, rare and honest.’ Bookseller UK ‘The book rings louder in my imagination the more time I spend apart from it…Taylor’s prose is clear and direct, with flashes of surpassing loveliness…it has a startling offhand grace…Taylor writes that she will most miss her husband and the faces of her children. They will surely miss her, too. But it’s at least something — maybe a tiny bit lucky, even — that this gorgeous piece of her remains.’ New York Times

  19. 5 out of 5

    Kirsty Dummin

    This is a quick, straight forward read that shares a snippet of Cory's life, her family and her history in the face of her own death. It's not depressing or tragic, just matter of fact. Cory touches on many poignant points about life and death, and while I'm sure writing this book was somewhat of a meditation for her, it's also something that any person can relate to. After all, death finds us all, eventually. This is a quick, straight forward read that shares a snippet of Cory's life, her family and her history in the face of her own death. It's not depressing or tragic, just matter of fact. Cory touches on many poignant points about life and death, and while I'm sure writing this book was somewhat of a meditation for her, it's also something that any person can relate to. After all, death finds us all, eventually.

  20. 5 out of 5

    M. Sarki

    https://msarki.tumblr.com/post/154283... The accident of birth is just that. And so is everything that happens afterwards, or so it seems to me… Cory Taylor died at age sixty in July of 2016, but not before finishing this important book that details her life beginning to end. The fact that new treatments and medicines now extend our dying to degrees unmanageable by some and put to good use by others serves the writer well. Cory Taylor deftly, and honestly, presents the history of herself as a chil https://msarki.tumblr.com/post/154283... The accident of birth is just that. And so is everything that happens afterwards, or so it seems to me… Cory Taylor died at age sixty in July of 2016, but not before finishing this important book that details her life beginning to end. The fact that new treatments and medicines now extend our dying to degrees unmanageable by some and put to good use by others serves the writer well. Cory Taylor deftly, and honestly, presents the history of herself as a child growing up, opening and expanding to the world around her, and then on to her contracting and retreat from it, resorting to living her final days contained within two small rooms. …I have heard it said that modern dying means dying more, dying over longer periods, enduring more uncertainty, subjecting ourselves and our families to more disappointments and despair. As we are enabled to live longer, we are also condemned to die longer… Early in her life, consciousness, and its opposite state of unconsciousness, made an indelible impression on her. From that moment on it was what Cory Taylor believed in, resisting all attempts by others to persuade her otherwise. Subjected as we all are to compounding religions and their accompanying faiths in eternal life she would, for a lifetime, remain indifferent. …For what are we, if not a body taking a mind for a walk, just to see what’s there? Learning and the sensual life, her love for words and her mother, two sons and a good husband, would sustain her. All would play an important role in her dying, and terrifying, finality. But Cory Taylor, in the face of it all, gracefully and gratefully composes a work bereft of pity, sentimentality, and remorse. Hers is a love story, pure and simple. And a complete joy to read. The moments that stand out for me are the ones when I felt most alive.

  21. 4 out of 5

    Joachim Stoop

    The title should have been 'Living: a memoir' and the few pieces that actually were about dying were rather cliché than earth shattering or heart rending. There are way better books on terminal illness and facing death. Read Marion Coutts, Paul Kalanithi or Julie Yip-Williams instead The title should have been 'Living: a memoir' and the few pieces that actually were about dying were rather cliché than earth shattering or heart rending. There are way better books on terminal illness and facing death. Read Marion Coutts, Paul Kalanithi or Julie Yip-Williams instead

  22. 4 out of 5

    Cass Moriarty

    Recently I interviewed Kat Mulheran, the owner of Bent Books, a second-hand bookstore in West End, and while wandering around afterwards, I picked up a copy of Cory Taylor’s book Dying: a memoir (Text Publishing 2016). It has been on my TBR list for ages, but the current personal circumstances of a friend meant this copy of the book called to me from the shelf, demanding that I pick it up, buy it, read it. It is a slim volume. Author Cory Taylor speaks frankly and movingly about her approaching d Recently I interviewed Kat Mulheran, the owner of Bent Books, a second-hand bookstore in West End, and while wandering around afterwards, I picked up a copy of Cory Taylor’s book Dying: a memoir (Text Publishing 2016). It has been on my TBR list for ages, but the current personal circumstances of a friend meant this copy of the book called to me from the shelf, demanding that I pick it up, buy it, read it. It is a slim volume. Author Cory Taylor speaks frankly and movingly about her approaching death, her brain tumour, her melanoma. She talks about the questions she is asked most often because she is dying, and she explains her answers. She paints a loving portrait of her husband and her children, and she relives often confronting memories about growing up and her family of origin. She speaks of the sadness and frustration of death, the happiness and poignancy of life, and the futility of railing at anything in between. In simple but beautiful language, she parses the meaning of her life, and the point of our being here at all. This book is a meditation, a breath, a prayer, a sigh. It is a tender, wise and clear-eyed assessment of death. It is a book that urges the reader to pass it on to another’s hands.

  23. 5 out of 5

    Andrew McMillen

    What do you do if you're dying slowly of a melanoma-related brain cancer? If you're a writer, like Brisbane-based Cory Taylor, you write a book about it, and all the rest of us can do is soak in the relentlessly true, beautiful and moving words that result. Structured around three long essays, Taylor writes of how her body has failed her since the initial diagnosis in 2005, just before her 50th birthday. While her once full life has since contracted to just two rooms – her bedroom and her living What do you do if you're dying slowly of a melanoma-related brain cancer? If you're a writer, like Brisbane-based Cory Taylor, you write a book about it, and all the rest of us can do is soak in the relentlessly true, beautiful and moving words that result. Structured around three long essays, Taylor writes of how her body has failed her since the initial diagnosis in 2005, just before her 50th birthday. While her once full life has since contracted to just two rooms – her bedroom and her living room, where she spends most of her days now – her mind remains wonderfully sharp and active, and here she describes the arc of her narrative with vivid details. "When you're dying, even your unhappiest memories can induce a sort of fondness," she writes, "as if delight is not confined to the good times, but is woven through your days like a skein of gold thread." With pinpoint precision, Taylor reflects on her childhood to describe how writing and language became her consuming passions. Early classroom experiences reinforced the high value of these skills: to her, writing "suddenly seemed like the most important thing in the world to practise and master, not for its meaning – that would come later – but for its mystery." Tied up in all of this are the stages of denial, anger, grief and acceptance that have come to her as the cancer advances. The middle section is largely devoted to her upbringing and troubled family life, and having seen how much difficulty her parents had in their marriage, it is clear that she is grateful to have found a loving man with whom to share her remaining time. At once sad and proud, Taylor's writing in these pages is truly masterly. Readers of any age will find much to learn here. If 'Dying' is to be Cory Taylor's final public writing, as seems to be the case, it is difficult to imagine a finer note on which to close.

  24. 4 out of 5

    Briana

    My God this was stunning. Not just the cover (although it is one of the best) but Cory’s last memoir. I checked this one out of the library weeks ago and was putting off reading it (although I have been wanting to for awhile) because I read the first page and I didn’t know if I could stomach reading this heartbreaking book just yet. The cover kept calling me though and eventually I did and devoured in 2 short sittings. Australian writer Cory Taylor writes about dying of melanoma cancer. She pass My God this was stunning. Not just the cover (although it is one of the best) but Cory’s last memoir. I checked this one out of the library weeks ago and was putting off reading it (although I have been wanting to for awhile) because I read the first page and I didn’t know if I could stomach reading this heartbreaking book just yet. The cover kept calling me though and eventually I did and devoured in 2 short sittings. Australian writer Cory Taylor writes about dying of melanoma cancer. She passed away shortly after it’s release. (Rest in peace Cory 💕) it is a beautiful account of her experience with coping with the fact that she is dying, the taboo about death and assisted suicide for the terminally ill, she also recollects her family history which she does immaculately (IMO) . A tough one to read, but an important one to read. It was so well done, I am so sorry Cory and to Cory’s family. 💕 I’ll finish with quotes • “I went through most of my life believing death was something that happened to other people. In my deluded state I imagined I had unlimited time to play with, so I took. A fairly leisurely approach to life& didn’t really push myself.” • “Yes, I have regrets, but as soon as you start rewriting your past you realise how your failures and mistakes define you. Take them away and you’re nothing.” • She quotes Author Tsunetomo Yamamoto, “it is silly to spend an entire lifetime struggling and worrying and doing things we don’t want to; after all this life is like a dream, so short and fleeting.”

  25. 4 out of 5

    Veronica

    'For what are we, if not a mind taking a body for a walk, just to see what's there? And, in the end, where do we get to, if not back to a beginning that we've never really left behind ... I am a girl and I am a dying woman. My body is my journey, the truest record of all I have done and seen, the site of all my joys and heartbreaks, of all my misapprehensions and blinding insights. If I feel the need to relive the journey it is all there written in runes on my body. Even my cells remember it, al 'For what are we, if not a mind taking a body for a walk, just to see what's there? And, in the end, where do we get to, if not back to a beginning that we've never really left behind ... I am a girl and I am a dying woman. My body is my journey, the truest record of all I have done and seen, the site of all my joys and heartbreaks, of all my misapprehensions and blinding insights. If I feel the need to relive the journey it is all there written in runes on my body. Even my cells remember it, all that sunshine I bathed in as a child, too much as it turned out. In my beginning is my end.' A great depth of clarity and generosity of spirit permeate this slim, immensely affecting memoir of Taylor's slow death by cancer. Dying: A Memoir is restrained, self-aware and beautifully written.

  26. 4 out of 5

    Diana

    I hate giving this book 2 stars. I think my own expectations were way too high, and part of that was based on When Breath Becomes Air. I preordered this book after reading a review of it and read it in one day. But the book is banal. It is 98% memoir and 2% dying. The memoir is her rough childhood with almost no description of her adult life or her family or the effects of her diagnosis. I will be horribly honest and admit that I know what it's like to go through a rough childhood but I do not k I hate giving this book 2 stars. I think my own expectations were way too high, and part of that was based on When Breath Becomes Air. I preordered this book after reading a review of it and read it in one day. But the book is banal. It is 98% memoir and 2% dying. The memoir is her rough childhood with almost no description of her adult life or her family or the effects of her diagnosis. I will be horribly honest and admit that I know what it's like to go through a rough childhood but I do not know what it is like to find out you are going to die. So my bad, this book was not at all what I thought it would be and I did not find it satisfying at all.

  27. 4 out of 5

    Claire Fuller

    I enjoyed this - can a book written by someone with a terminal illness be enjoyable? The first half is about her thoughts on what she's facing, and I found this very moving, and I was angry on her behalf that assisted dying is not an option. The alternatives, and what they would make her husband and two sons face, are terrible. The second half was a more straightforward memoir about her dysfunctional family. This was interesting, but simply not what I was expecting. I enjoyed this - can a book written by someone with a terminal illness be enjoyable? The first half is about her thoughts on what she's facing, and I found this very moving, and I was angry on her behalf that assisted dying is not an option. The alternatives, and what they would make her husband and two sons face, are terrible. The second half was a more straightforward memoir about her dysfunctional family. This was interesting, but simply not what I was expecting.

  28. 4 out of 5

    Travel Writing

    "But I'm used to dying now. It's become ordinary and unremarkable, something everybody, without exception, does at one time or another." Cory Taylor writes with lightness and a gentleness that carries you right through the darkest and deepest reaches of her journey of dying. She shares her story sparingly, deftly, with an ease that is beguiling and poignant. A story of inexplicable grief and loss, a story with effervescent joy and a mother's love, a story of a dad who is seemingly a narcissist who "But I'm used to dying now. It's become ordinary and unremarkable, something everybody, without exception, does at one time or another." Cory Taylor writes with lightness and a gentleness that carries you right through the darkest and deepest reaches of her journey of dying. She shares her story sparingly, deftly, with an ease that is beguiling and poignant. A story of inexplicable grief and loss, a story with effervescent joy and a mother's love, a story of a dad who is seemingly a narcissist who was capable of both energizing and demoralizing his small family, a story of family estrangements and family love and how they often sit in the same chair. Cory Taylor is gone now, and her words echo into the future. "...it did make a lot of sense at the time, given that I was already writing to the living from the point of view of the dead." p.5 "How I would love to pack the car and head off to some deserted beach fro a swim. But I weigh less than my neighbors retriever. I'd never make it beyond the first break." p.23 'Mine was the privileged tale of someone who had not truly suffered. The fact that I was dying now was sad, but not tragic. I had lived a full like." p.25 "But travel, as well as being exile rating, is also a process of disillusionment, of measuring your expectations against a very different reality." p.32 "Guesswork. All guesswork." p.33 "My point is that I've travelled enough, collected enough treasured memories to be satisfied. You can never go everywhere and see every thing. Even if you did, I suspect there wold be a point where you grew satiated with travel and longed to be home. Because the pleasures of home can be just as great as the pleasures of travel, and there is a price to be paid for wanting to be everywhere and nowhere..." "A bucket list implies a lack, a store of unfulfilled desires or aspirations, a worry that you haven't done enough with your life. It suggests that more experience is better, whereas the opposite might equally be true." "One of my problems with religion has always been the idea that the righteous are saved and the rest are condemned. Isn't that the ultimate logic of religions' us' and 'them' paradigm?" "I had no idea a body could turn against itself and incubate its own enemy." "I haven't died before, so sometimes get a bad case of beginners nerves, but they soon pass." "yes. I have regrets, but as soon as you start rewriting your past you realize how your failures and mistakes are what define you. Take them away and you're nothing. But I do wonder where I'd be now if i'd made different choices, if I'd been bolder, smarter, more sure of what I wanted and how to get it. As it was, I seemed to stumble around, making up life as I went along. Looking back, I can make some sense of it, but at the same time my life was all very makeshift and provisional, more dependent upon luck than on planning or intent." "The problem with reverie is that you always assume you know how the unlied life turns out. And it's always a better version of the life you've actually lived. The other life is more significant and purposeful." "The world was just as {T.S. Eliot} described it and no other way, a place where beauty and corruption cohabit and are often indistinguishable." "It was here that I learned where my mother had come from and why she carried such a burden of sadness...this grief, it soon became clear, had originated in her Queensland childhood..." "...and that marked her out, for the rest of her life, as dangerously over-educated, full of ideas that were foreign to her family. It made them afraid of her." "No wonder my mother harbored so much grief. She must have imbibed it from birth, sucked it in with the very air. And her she was, back at the source filling herself up with it again." "He appeared to be in a perpetual state of high dudgeon..." "That was dad's nightmare, the thing he feared the most. I think he would have preferred to die then to end up back in the same place he started out." "Our default position was silence, but not of the harmonious kind. Silence for us was a form of accusation, an expression of mutual disappointment and rage, a substitute for violence. "If they are not my home, then they are the places that have marked me, shaped my sensibilities, created affinities. Added together, they take up the space in my heart where my home would be, if I had one." "The accident of birth is just that. And so is everything that happens afterwards, or so it seems to me. How many times I could have died before now, and in how many different ways. " "The Hagakure is a samurai manifesto, written in 1716, to remind its readers of this incontrovertible fact. “It is silly,” writes the book’s author, Tsunetomo Yamamoto, “to spend an entire lifetime struggling and worrying and doing things we don’t want to do; after all this life is like a dream, so short and fleeting.” "And all the while my Chinese drug offers me an alternative way to go. I’m grateful to have it. It helps me feel that my autonomy is still intact, that I might yet be able to influence my fate. Even if I never use the drug, it will still have served to banish the feeling of utter helplessness that threatens so often to overwhelm me." "...fortunate to have a mother who never gave me any cause to doubt her love."

  29. 4 out of 5

    Jennifer (JC-S)

    ‘The fact that I was dying now was sad, but not tragic. I had lived a full life.’ At the age of sixty, Cory Taylor was dying of a melanoma-related brain cancer. Her cancer could no longer be treated, and death was inevitable. And so, she wrote this book. I imagine that every person who reads it comes away with something slightly different. For me, it’s Cory Taylor’s reflections on her life, and her observations about the deaths of her parents. So many echoes, too, in her thoughts about being able ‘The fact that I was dying now was sad, but not tragic. I had lived a full life.’ At the age of sixty, Cory Taylor was dying of a melanoma-related brain cancer. Her cancer could no longer be treated, and death was inevitable. And so, she wrote this book. I imagine that every person who reads it comes away with something slightly different. For me, it’s Cory Taylor’s reflections on her life, and her observations about the deaths of her parents. So many echoes, too, in her thoughts about being able to choose the circumstances of her death. I’ve lost two friends in as many years, two friends who suffered because preserving life was, apparently, more important than a comfortable death. The book is full of clear and careful reflection. At one stage, writing about the unexpected death of a friend who was helping her, Cory writes: ‘A sudden death cuts out all of the ghastly preliminaries, but I imagine it leaves behind a terrible regret for all the things left permanently unspoken. A slow death, like mine, has that one advantage. You have a lot of time to talk, to tell people how you feel, to try to make sense of the whole thing, of the life that is coming to a close, both for yourself and those who remain.’ She writes of acceptance, of her ambition to be a writer. Of having no regrets, and of worrying about death: ‘It is by far the hardest thing I’ve ever done, and I will be glad when it’s over.’ And: ‘My doctor has promised to honour my wishes, but I can’t help worrying. I haven’t died before, so I sometimes get a bad case of beginner’s nerves, but they soon pass.’ It’s a beautifully written book. Dying is a personal journey which, at some stage, each of us will make. It’s a book on a topic we need to discuss more openly: death is inevitable, but the circumstances of death vary. People should not suffer when suffering can be avoided. Right at the end of the book, Cory Taylor writes: ‘I’ve come to the edge of words now, to the place where they falter and strain in the face of dying’s terrifying finality.’ I can only hope that Cory Taylor did not suffer. Cory Taylor died on 5 July 2016, a couple of months after this book was published. She was aged 61. I had previously read ‘My Beautiful Enemy’, and I’ve added ‘Me and Mr Booker’ to my reading list. Jennifer Cameron-Smith

  30. 5 out of 5

    Carolyn

    I have had this on order from the library for many months but when it became available just weeks after my sister died I thought that it might prove too difficult a read for me at this time. How wrong I was! The memoir put my own grief in perspective and enabled me to find words for thoughts and feelings that had lain unexpressed. It was utterly compelling reading - honest, insightful and written so clearly to show the range of conflicting emotions and decisions someone feels when facing death. I have had this on order from the library for many months but when it became available just weeks after my sister died I thought that it might prove too difficult a read for me at this time. How wrong I was! The memoir put my own grief in perspective and enabled me to find words for thoughts and feelings that had lain unexpressed. It was utterly compelling reading - honest, insightful and written so clearly to show the range of conflicting emotions and decisions someone feels when facing death. I found the first and third parts of the book the most affecting, with the middle section tracing Taylor's family background less interesting. But this is a minor beef. I pay tribute to a woman who not only faced her end with determination and grace but who shared so much of her journey with us. This will be one of my most memorable reads of the year, Creative achievements are among the greatest of all, because they transcend time. Taylor had no religious belief but hoped that her work would be her immortality. We have lost a number of Australian women writers' voices over the past year - Taylor, Blain and Hazzard (that I'm aware of). I feel inspired to re-read their work as part of my reading in 2017.

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