The price of experience

Gone are the days of well crafted letters that arrive in the post box.  For me, the mail usually brings bills/parking tickets. Yesterday, I received a parcel in the post.  I love getting parcels.  The parcel was Mike Marqusee's new book: The Price of Experience:Writings on Living with Cancer.

I have blogged about Mike before.  He is a well known author, a native New Yorker, now living and working in London.  Multiple myeloma was diagnosed in 2007.  Up until then, most of his writing covered sport, culture and politics.  He didn't start writing about his illness until 2 years after his diagnosis.  His latest book is a collection of his articles describing his life with cancer: the language used to talk about cancer, the politics of the health service and the drug companies as well as more intimate glimpses into some of his own thoughts.

"A cancer diagnosis marks a sharp discontinuity in life, but it doesn't mean you cease being who you were before you had the cancer: the passions, engagements, anxieties, prejudices, bad habits do not suddenly become redundant.....In reflecting on my experience, I've done so not just as a cancer patient but as a citizen and human being enmeshed in a network of relationships"

It is a wonderfully written book combining the politics of health with the experience of having cancer.

I got to know Mike through his partner Liz Davies who has been a friend of mine since University days.  In 2012, he published a book of poetry"Street Music".  Some poems deal with his disease and treatment.  Others are love poems written to Liz.  She warned me that I would cry when I first read them and she was right.  It has taken some me some time to read them again.  I read the poem "The wait will not be long" at our last poetry lunch.

The wait will not be long

I hear the rustle of the bicycle returning to its shed
the thrust and clunk of lock and bolt.

Indoors and all at once, the weather shifts,
like an orchestra changing key.

I hear carpet-thumps, muffled bumps,
and a sigh.

I hear the winter coat dropped to the floor
and a hurried rush to the loo.

She brings in warmth from the cold outside,
she melts ice within.

She's invisible but near: my protector, my mediator
-my central heating.

The price of Experience has just been published and is available from the publisher.  "Street Music" is available from Amazon.

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