Fathom this. You’re one of the best in your profession, wanting to better yourself every day. You’re in the peak of your career, in the mid 30s. Suddenly, one day you come to know you are diagnosed with Lung Cancer and have only few months to live. The last thing you would want to do would be to write a book. You would want to spend the last few months of your life with near and dear, taking leave from your profession, right?
That’s what most people would do. But Paul Kalanithi chose to be different. He wouldn’t let the terminal illness take over his life, as yet. He would face life, continue his work as neurosurgeon against the odds, spend time writing a book on the thoughts clouding his mind so that it can serve as an inspiration for people around the globe on how to lead/face their lives.
The book hits you on the face. BAMMMM! It makes you think if you are making the best use of your time. It makes you realise, we are all running against time, towards the finish line, i.e. Death. The time, may be different for different people, but the end is certain. What we make of our time in the race between life and death is what matters.
The tone of the book is never negative or to gain a sense of sympathy towards the protagonist. It’s positive, gritty, reassuring and confident. That’s how Paul lived his life, till he breathed his last, at the age of 36.
Paul from childhood had had a keen inclination towards literature, which is very well reflecting in his writing and vocabulary. The detailed medical descriptions of operations or about cancer at times slow down the pace of the book and makes one skip a few stanzas. Editing (post Paul’s death) seems to have been done in a hurry.
But this raw nature of the book makes us somewhat feel connected to Paul. Written in uncensored stream of consciousness. Towards his last days, Paul was in a hurry to finish the book and that very well reflects in the tone towards the last few pages of the book, where Paul is almost in denial mode.
Bottomline: Should be read once to align your compass in the right direction. Inspirational.