A Manly Response to Illness

A Manly Response to Disease

Unaffected by newer gender paradigms, the standard of strong and quiet masculinity to which these men adapt depends on their upbringing. They belong to generations of boys who were raised not to cry or scold: to button up, to dress soldiers, and not to indulge in messy feelings. The writer Anthony Trollope put it best: “Men seldom tell the truth about what is in them, even to their dearest friends; They are ashamed of having feelings, or rather, showing that they are troubled by any intensity of feeling. “Although this model of masculinity has long roots, it continues to shape the identity of people engaged in the expression of creative literature.

In "One Hundred Autobiographies", Mr. Lehman informs us that he is telling and not telling his story of cancer. After discovering blood in his urine, he produced 100 vignettes to tell his life. The brief sketches were made while undergoing multiple cystoscopies, a series of transurethral resections of bladder tumors (TURBTs), eight weeks of immunotherapy, four months of chemotherapy for metastatic disease, and a five-hour operation to remove your bladder, some lymph nodes, and others Picking parts of you and reorganizing your insides ”along with a number of side effects:“ cardiac arrest ”, neuropathy, infection, weight loss, indigestion. “And mostly I stayed cool. Most of time."

Throughout the book, Mr. Lehman refrains from giving details of the nature and consequences of these medical events. He also emphasizes his own reluctance to use reports from his wife, Stacey, to provide background information; by admitting that he lies to well-wishers about his condition; and by calling his publication a "fake memoir". Why?

Mr. Lehman explains in the book that he “doesn't want to make Cancer the sun that the rest of the planets revolve around”: “I don't want to talk about it, think about it, do something about it, except show up on time for each final appointment and try not to complain. "

While the downside to this approach means we don't learn much about bladder cancer, the upside means we learn a lot about Mr. Lehman: his immigrant parents who met in New York City after fleeing the Nazis; his attentive upbringing in the Inwood neighborhood of Manhattan; his education at Columbia University; his famous mentors and friends – Lionel Trilling, John Ashbery, Kenneth Koch, Edward Said – as well as his favorite trips, songs, jokes, films, writers and sports teams. It is fascinating to meet an artist critic who has shaped the contemporary poetry scene since 1988 as the founder and editor of the annual anthology The Best American Poetry.


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