Two weeks ago I was reading a book by a brilliant writer whose life was cut short by melanoma — “Dying: A Memoir,” by Cory Taylor — when I noticed a weird little growth on the skin just above my heart. A weird little growth right where long ago I used to slather a baby-oil-and-iodine concoction as I sat on a dorm roof during my college years. A weird little growth that suddenly struck me as almost certainly malignant melanoma.
In the midst of a miraculous book, I tend to go overboard on empathy. I walk around inside a little bubble of mirth when I’m reading a really funny essay collection, and I carry a lingering sense of disquiet when I’m in the middle of an unsettling novel. If I read a memoir about dying, pretty soon I will believe I’m dying myself. (more….)