cover image Let the Whole Thundering World Come Home

Let the Whole Thundering World Come Home

Natalie Goldberg. Shambhala, $16.95 trade paper (208p) ISBN 978-1-61180-567-3

In this moving memoir, Goldberg (Writing Down the Bones) shares the story of her battle with cancer. After she is diagnosed with chronic lymphocytic leukemia, Goldberg struggles to make sense of her suddenly conspicuous mortality. She admits that, when she came to face her own death, her training in the Zen tradition did not leave her ready to receive the teaching that “the horror and unknown of human life—and death” must be accepted. While she attempts different treatment plans, her partner, Yu-kwan, also receives a cancer diagnosis. In emotionally intense prose, Goldberg skillfully portrays the sorrow that can invade relationships when people are dealing with cancer (“Cancer demanded that I let the whole thundering world come home, that I accept the horror and unknown of human life—and death”) and recalls her anxiety about death, her fear of the lack of control over her condition, and her desire to avoid acknowledging the impermanence of life. Despite her suffering, Goldberg holds to the teachings of Zen: pay attention to this moment, savor every experience, and live life in full bloom with vigor and gusto. Luckily, Goldberg and Yu-kwan find a happy ending to their experience, as both go into remission. This touching book beautifully captures the frailty of human life and relationships. (June)