Monday, October 8, 2007

Reflection: The Diving Bell and the Butterfly

I very much liked The Diving Bell and the Butterfly by Jean-Dominique Bauby; it was an easy read that still used colorful imagery and elaborate wording. Being the former Editor-in-Chief of the magazine Elle, it makes sense that, even contained in his "diving bell", Bauby is still able to articulate his thoughts so clearly.
Although the topics of his book were simple-memories of friends, adventures, food-I still found his stories interesting to read about. He was able to make seemingly uninteresting topics such as a sponge bath evoke various feelings and emotions. At the same time, his recall of detail was impressive-he himself said that he had become very skilled in recycling memories, instead of leftovers in his current state. He has no difficulty in displaying this; describing "The sour smell of a New York bar. The odor of poverty in a Rangoon market." (103) or even his beloved sausage: "A knobbly Lyons rosette, for example, very dry and coarsely chopped. Every slice melts a little on your tongue before your start chewing..." (37) And, while i enjoyed his writing about every day thoughts and experiences, I would have liked to learn more about his memories though, rather than focusing on the present quite so much. Perhaps some stories of his work at Elle or his childhood would have done it for me.
At the end of the book, I realized that, during my time spent reading, it didn't really occur to me that Jean-Dominique would die in the end. The last few pages where he detailed his day of the stroke, and his thoughts really brought it home that the story was done; in the book and for him.
To close, I truly enjoyed The Diving Bell and the Butterfly, and though I don't think I will be reading it again anytime soon, it was definitely an interesting story that made me think; about the things I hadn't tried, the chances even now i haven't taken that I regret, and my ability to move through this world, to interact, and to communicate-such simple things, but now a little larger to me.

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