Thursday, October 08, 2009

Conversations with Calliope- Between Me and the River

(Between Me and the River- Cover)

JOE: Good morning Calliope. I have a book review to share with you today.
CALLIOPE: Great. Let me see it.

Between Me and the River by Carrie Host

In The Right to Write, Julia Cameron observes, "My body which carries a knowledge deeper than my mind, has answers for me as an artist and a person." In her new book, Between Me and the River, Living Beyond Cancer: A Memoir (Harlequin, 2009), Carrie Host chronicles her encounter with the river of cancer, sometimes paddling along, sometimes caught in the rapids and sometimes grasping desperately for the shore.

Her account reminds me of Dante's Divine Comedy, especially the Inferno with its River Styx and the Purgatorio where her body, mind and soul are purified. She never quite makes it to the Paradiso, although none of us do in this life. From the start of her account, I wanted to push or pull her boat to safety or paddle with her.

Before her encounter with cancer Carrie wrote poetry. She learned to watch, listen, smell, touch and taste the joys, frustrations, fears, defeats and victories punctuating her voyage. She shares with the reader her poignant observations, thoughts and feelings as her body experiences them. You will share with her the sting of each setback and the glory of each victory. As Julia Cameron says, "We store memories in our bodies. We store passion and heartache. We store joy, moments of transcendent peace."

Carrie's book shares her perspective on wrestling with cancer, from the loneliness of facing it alone inside her body to the loving support of her thirty-eight muses who helped write her story. She starts writing with the goal of finding an ending to her story. Eventually she does, "Radiating pure light, I've surreptitiously come to a place with winter clarity along the banks of a magnificent river, its roar a vague whisper, a place with all words sleeping."

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