Dancing at the Edge of Life: A Memoir

Gale Warner, Author, Gayle Warner, Author, David Kreger, Author Hyperion Books $22.45 (192p) ISBN 978-0-7868-6392-1
When poet and journalist Gale Warner, 29, learned that she had lymphoma, she used her journal to record her experiences and explore her feelings, hoping it might one day become a book. Though Warner didn't live to see its publication, her memoir serves well as the ""gift"" she had intended for patients and others seeking inspiration. ""What a powerful tool the mystery of illness can be for learning and teaching,"" she discovered. Though relatively young at the time of her diagnosis, Warner was especially accomplished: she had traveled widely, started environmental organizations and written two books (including The Invisible Threads), but was particularly proud of her work with citizens environmental groups in the Soviet Union. She came to understand her illness in spiritual terms related to these ideals: ""What grew [my tumor] was my very deep connection to the Earth, my openness to her pain,"" Warner claims. With the support of her physician husband, Kreger, who shaped the journal into its finished form, and countless friends, Warner confronted her cancer with remarkable honesty, wit and courage. She describes goddess-oriented healing rituals, several bouts of chemotherapy, her boundless hope and her occasional depression, and her irrepressible urge to walk, swim and dance in the natural world she so loved. Some readers may be troubled by Warner's construction of her illness as a metaphor--but Warner anticipates this criticism, noting that ""[t]o each of us, cancer says different things... for some, cancer is... a random event with no `cause.'"" Others may find Warner's New Age beliefs alienating. But the humor, compassion, determination and acceptance she shares in this affecting book are truly extraordinary. (June)
Reviewed on: 06/01/1998
Release date: 06/01/1998
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