Thursday, June 26, 2008

If you don't know me

I was excited to read My Stroke of Insight. A "brain scientist" has a stroke in the left hemisphere of her brain and lives to tell and write about it, after 8 years of cognitive therapy? Sounds like my kind of book, no? Of course, I was a bit suspicious of the fact that all the press materials kept referring to her as "brain scientist" without any further elaboration (last time I checked, there were very specific names for "brain scientists," right?), but I was still intrigued. This author had become an internet phenom. That sounded promising. And then I heard the author on Fresh Air with Terry Gross, and my enthusiasm waned. She, the stroke survivor, sounded...a little too canned, somehow. I wanted to give her the benefit of the doubt because here's a woman who lost all her memories along with her ability to read, write, and speak and only got all of that back after much, much work, of course, so I could see how she might sound rehearsed.

And then I got a look at the viral video of a presentation at the TED conference that garnered her so much attention. And what she said to Terry in response to Terry's multiple questions was exactly what she said during her presentation, almost word for word. She sounded rehearsed because she was. Which, again, could be understandable given her circumstances, except one of her contentions is that though she lost all these faculties as a result of the stroke, she gained this new ability to exist wholly in her right brain at any given moment, to have a completely alinear, unique sensory experience of the world around her. Yet her discussions of this, for lack of a better word, trippy ability are absolutely lacking in spontaneity, even when she is seemingly answering spontaneous interview questions. Did I mention the presentations were almost word for word?

So now I may still read the book, but I'm already disappointed. Clearly, this will be a completely different experience than reading I Had Brain Surgery, What's Your Excuse, the graphic memoir with which I so identified when I read it post-stroke.

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