My Year Off

Robert McCrum, Author
Robert McCrum, Author W. W. Norton & Company $23.95 (231p) ISBN 978-0-393-04656-4
Reviewed on: 12/29/1997
Release date: 09/01/1998
McCrum (The Story of English), editor-in-chief of the British publisher Faber & Faber, was 42 years old and newly married when, one night in the summer of 1995, he suffered a massive stroke that almost killed him. This account of how that night changed his life, told with a skillful blend of candor, humor and comprehensible medical reportage, is not only an enthralling read but also calls attention to the little-known fact that strokes, normally thought of as an affliction of the elderly, attack younger people with remarkable frequency. As it turned out, McCrum was lucky; he almost entirely regained the use of his limbs, although he has a sluggish arm and tires easily. His personality also changed, from hard-driving and aggressive to reflective and relaxed. His marriage to Sarah Lyall, who, when he met her (at the Frankfurt Book Fair) was the New York Times publishing correspondent, obviously helped enormously in his recovery. Some of the most touching segments in the book are excerpts from Lyall's journals of dealing with her husband's slow recovery and his own thoughts on his sometimes harsh and bitter behavior as he strove to regain his life. The book offers solace to those similarly afflicted and is also a moving human document that, because of its protagonist, will be of particular interest to those in the book business. (Sept.)
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