The Brand New Catastrophe: A Memoir

Mike Scalise. Sarabande, $15.95 trade paper (304p) ISBN 978-1-941411-33-9
Scalise, who has written for the Paris Review and Agni, delivers an offbeat, witty memoir about his life after discovering that he has a brain tumor related to acromegaly, a hormone disorder that causes gigantism. Scalise is unsparing in recounting his reaction to his diagnosis (“You learn at once that you’ve been placed on a very particular spectrum of ugly”) while keeping the reader engaged in a story about catastrophe: “Focus on the oddities and ironies that would seem incredible and ridiculous in any context, not just that of your disaster.” In between descriptions of his various hospital visits and operation, he presents how his illness affected his relationships with his “universe of loved ones, friends and acquaintances, all pulled into a troubled orbit around the busted person at its core.” The most memorable characters are his girlfriend, who helps him deal with tumor-related testosterone issues, and his mother, who suffers her own chronic cardiac problems. He also looks at acromegaly in a broader social context, such as how it affected a number of Hollywood actors including André the Giant. But the heart of Scalise’s sensitive and well-written memoir is his depiction of how he dealt with his illness personally, especially the “complicated role-play” of “becoming infatuated with your own defense mechanisms.” (Jan.)
Reviewed on: 10/10/2016
Release date: 01/01/2017
Genre: Nonfiction
Open Ebook - 260 pages - 978-1-941411-34-6
MP3 CD - 978-1-5366-9111-5
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