Letters from the Land of Cancer

Walter Wangerin, Jr., Author Zondervan $16.99 (199p) ISBN 978-0-310-29281-4

The prospect of hanging concentrates the mind wonderfully, wrote essayist Samuel Johnson. In the case of prolific writer and teacher Wangerin (Saint Julian ), a diagnosis of lung cancer drove him not to despair but to writing, his usual mode of making sense of things. He tells his family it’s an adventure; cancer is his wrestling with God and the big questions, as mortality gets right up in his face. A series of 22 letters—addressed mostly to friends to convey news of his progress—and seven meditations recapitulate the long, pain-filled journey through chemotherapy and radiation treatment so strong it eventually, literally, takes his breath away, diminishing tumors and lung capacity. Wangerin’s detailing is concrete, from the joy of touching his grandchild’s finger to the who-knew? myriad changes wrought by mortal illness. Faith may be his armor, but he is no noble knight, revealing peevishness, arrogance, self-absorption. No one speaks from the other side, but Wangerin, his cancer now sleeping, has gone before us with fierce honesty, peering over the edge and reporting. (Feb.)

Reviewed on: 12/14/2009
Release date: 01/01/2010
Genre: Nonfiction
Open Ebook - 978-0-310-56292-4
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