Have you ever had one of those books that sat on your wishlist for so long that, when you finally got a copy, you couldn’t remember why it was on your wishlist in the first place? And then, when you started reading, you really couldn’t imagine why you wanted it, because it was just so terrible? My Stroke of Insight, by Jill Taylor, is exactly that book.
It’s really, really bad.
That’s really all you need to know, but here’s the rest of my review anyway. The basic premise: Jill Taylor, Ph.D., brain scientist, had a stroke, and then got better, and found nirvana through stepping out of her left brain and into her right brain… or something like that. It’s a little hard to tell, actually, because it’s full of all sorts of sentences like this:
Startled by this ominous illumination, I fathomed the gravity of my immediate situation. (p. 45)
The memories from my past were no longer available for recollection,leaving me cloaked from the bigger picture of who I was and what I was doing here as a life form. Focused completely in the present moment, my pulsing brain felt like it was gripped in a vice. [sic] And here, deep within the absence of earthly temporality, the boundaries of my early body dissolved and I melted into the universe. (p. 49)
Achieving nirvana through stroke! Yippee! This is a weird little book, my friends, and it’s not even well-written enough to make up for that. I couldn’t stomach any more than about fifty pages. I wasn’t even interested enough to find out how Jill recovered from her stroke. Plus, I’m pretty sure that the illustrations were done in MS Paint. No joke.
I feel like there’s more that can be said, but the thought of spending more time talking about this book is making me very tired. Let’s all go read books by Oliver Sacks instead, okay?
Edited to add: quite a discussion has begun in the comments here about the issue of style vs. substance/message. I’ve written a longer follow-up post. Please feel free to join the discussion there.