Published On: Wed, Aug 30th, 2017

I Am, I Am, I Am – e book assessment: A unprecedented memoir by Maggie O’Farrell


I Am, I Am, I Am: Seventeen Brushes With Dying by Maggie O’Farrell (Tinder Press, £18.99)

What follows is a chilling occasion, unflinching in actual fact and emotion, setting the tone for this outstanding e book.

I Am, I Am, I Am recounts the 17 occasions when novelist O’Farrell has narrowly escaped loss of life. There are episodes of close to drowning, of life-threatening miscarriages, of amoebic parasites. There are shut shaves with vehicles, with turbulent planes and a knife-point theft in Chile.

As an award-winning author of seven novels together with Directions For A Heatwave and This Should Be The Place, O’Farrell is famend for her emotional acuity. One chapter in I Am, I Am, I Am explores a physician’s failure to hearken to her medical historical past, which causes her near-death throughout childbirth and provokes outrage on the conceitedness of the docs she encounters.

And but, on the finish of the identical chapter, whereas the surgeons are “stitching and stapling me collectively once more” after an emergency Caesarean part, an nameless “man in beige” within the working theatre reveals her tenderness and compassion in a transferring conclusion to the story.

One of many putting options of the e book is the respect O’Farrell reveals her secondary characters. Whether or not ex-boyfriends, her husband, her pals or her youngsters, she tells you as a lot as it’s essential to know with out ever betraying these round her.

With all these incidents, there’s a sense – generally express, often implicit – of how they’ve contributed to O’Farrell’s profession as a author. On a aircraft experience to Hong Kong, “all of the sudden the aircraft is falling, dropping, plummeting, like a rock thrown from a cliff”.

O’Farrell had been mourning her disappointing diploma end result and the educational life she would not reside. However by the tip of the chapter, “within the monsoon season, when the rain is a continuing… I began to put in writing”.

I Am, I Am, I Am is a rare e book. Every of O’Farrell’s experiences could be anecdote sufficient in their very own proper, however collectively they recount a rare life to this point lived. The writing is superbly restrained and all of the extra emotionally highly effective for it.

And it is a e book of extraordinary braveness: the braveness to have survived these “seventeen brushes with loss of life” and the braveness to put in writing about them with such searing candour. It’s a profoundly affecting, highly effective and life-affirming e book. 

Should you solely learn one memoir this yr, make it O’Farrell’s.


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