cover image I HAD BRAIN SURGERY, WHAT'S YOUR EXCUSE? An Illustrated Memoir


Suzy Becker, Author . Workman $19.95 (282p) ISBN 978-0-7611-24

Cartoonist and writer Becker (All I Need to Know I Learned from My Cat ) sloughed off her repeated seizures as stress-related and lived with the strangeness of periodic episodes for three and half years, until a friend witnessed an attack in May 1999. Becker finally sought medical testing and underwent brain surgery. Her memoir loosely brackets the year around her procedure, from the initial diagnosis to the long, slow recovery, when unpredicted side effects interfered with her speech and even her thought processes. As Becker's healing slogs along at a snail's pace, she wonders, "Up until now, I didn't know things were missing until I went looking for them.... What about the things I don't think to look for? " Such problems assailed the essence of Becker's talents for being funny and easily expressing herself through words and drawing. Her struggle to recuperate has a profound effect on relationships and changes her own expectations about being a friend, lover and family member. As anyone might, Becker asks herself, "What if my life is a life I don't want to live? " But with the help of others and her slowly returning sense of humor, she eventually recreates a life she recognizes as her own, one in which she even completes a strenuous AIDS fund-raising bike ride and begins a competitive writing fellowship. Becker's deeply personal and surprisingly funny account intersperses text with such whimsical additions as Becker's "Cardiac Exercise Tolerance" and kooky cartoons. (Mar.)

Forecast: A 20-city author tour and a national marketing campaign will draw in fans of Becker's previous work.