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October 12 , 2008

Love Letters from Transylvania

A Memoir of Blood Cancer, Identity and Storytelling


Hugh Kiernan’s memoir cycles, tantalisingly but purposefully, among different modes—expository, dramatic, narrative, and descriptive—and sometimes blurs the boundary between fiction and nonfiction. But the effect of the whole is perhaps best described as lyrical, as the prose has the compression and metaphorical openness characteristic of poetry. The result is a narrative that powerfully communicates the disorientation and even self-estrangement attendant on a life-changing, and life-threatening, condition. An achievement rare in my experience of illness narrative. Emeritus Professor G Thomas Couser Author of Memoir: An introduction and Recovering Bodies: Illness, disability and life writing Hugh Kiernan’s writing inhabits liminal spaces between health and illness. His carefully crafted stories differ from the usual first-person memoir tradition adopted by authors making sense of their illness experiences. He uses experiences of other ill people or his experience with a context or with inanimate objects or a trying situation to structure stories that provide compelling insights into the world of health care. Emeritus Professor Annette Street Author of Inside Nursing, Nursing Replay and Thinking, Acting, Reflecting An extraordinary memoir: a journey into a netherworld where both the surreal and the achingly real, pain and morphine-induced euphoria, are seamlessly interwoven. Hugh Kiernan is a participant-observer, a witness to his experience of cancer, unflinching in his attention to detail, yet transcendent in capturing the flow of the journey. Arnold Zable Author of Violin Lessons and Café Scheherazade
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