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Main > Literature > My One Night Stand with Cancer
My One Night Stand with Cancer
I recently attended a banana-pancake party in Phoenix. After lots of maple syrup and coffee, we began to play a game inspired by Bradbury's novel Fahrenheit 451. Firefighters in his book don't put out fires; instead, they facilitate the safe burning of books. As a result of all the book-burning, a secret subculture forms, in which each member of the community commits to the memorization of at least one book for posterity. We see people on their deathbeds as they recite their books out loud to younger aspiring memorizers. The pancake party question: What book would you choose to memorize? The responses were interesting. James Joyce came up, something by Gabriel Garcia-Marquez, The Waves, by Virginia Woolf, Joy Williams' The Quick and the Dead, Catcher in the Rye, the Harry Potter series, Feast of Love, by Charles Baxter, a book of poems called Crush, Midnight's Children by Salmon Rushdie. I was so stressed out. I couldn't decide. The decision felt too big.
But, now I know. I would choose Tania Katan's memoir My One-night Stand With Cancer. I just finished reading it sixteen minutes ago, and I feel smarter, funnier, stronger, more kind and humble and open. I don't know how to reflect my experience with reading this book. Perhaps Tania Katan is indescribable and can only be experienced. What I do know is that her book will change you. It will expand who you are. You will become a better friend, a better lover, a better thinker and feeler and griever, a playmate, a liver of life. It takes an artist to live this life, and Tania Katan lets you live with her through three surgeries, four diagnoses, two lumpy girlfriends (who find lumps in her breasts), at least three revenge fantasies, one very funny snuggly therapist, who becomes the "older woman," a strange and devoted family of five, a 10K race (which she runs topless and double-mastectomized), and one story of finding the love of her life, someone to feel with, to collaborate with, to play with.
At one point Katan says how much she loves moving in and out of complete honesty and utter silliness. And she obviously lives what she loves. And writes how she lives. Katan's voice is clear and rare, as is her story. Her writing is layered and kinky, smart, full of body and humor. And music. Like Mozart meets disco?deep and bursting.
This memoir includes cancer, but it is not about cancer. It is about love, sincerity, and living imaginatively. It is about surrender and deep listening, bodies in motion, and freedom and sex. It will invite you to have a total response, to participate in your life with gusto and faith. Faith in friends. Faith in healing. Faith in love.
- Planet Cancer