View Gallery

Editions

Life with Sudden Death

A Tale of Moral Hazard and Medical Misadventure

List Price: $15.95

October 1, 2010 | Paperback | 5.8 x 8.8, 256 Pages | ISBN 9781582436159
Order Now From Indiebound

“[Downing's] writing has the cerebral precision and focus of Joan Didion’s, but it’s got other kinds of fullness and heart, too.” —Huffington Post

Michael Downing was three when his father died suddenly and inexplicably. No autopsy was performed. The family diagnosis was God’s will.

As a boy in the Berkshires, Downing was rigorously trained as a spiritual athlete, but he couldn’t exorcise his fondness for the wrong books and other boys. He aimed for Harvard and escaped his inherited sense of identity—until one of his brothers died in 2003, suddenly and inexplicably. Again, no autopsy was performed.

Alarmed, Downing pursued a diagnosis and discovered he had inherited a mutant protein from his father, and that the first symptom would likely be his sudden death.

Downing had a defibrillator hardwired to his heart. Within weeks, he needed emergency surgery to extract the device and the life-threatening infection he got with it. Three months later, he was reimplanted—only to read in his morning newspaper that the new electrical wires anchored to his heart were prone to failure.

Life with Sudden Death explores a simple question: Who can you trust with your life?

MICHAEL DOWNING is the author of six books, including the novel Breakfast with Scot, which was adapted into a film. He teaches creative writing at Tufts University and lives in Cambridge, Massachusetts.

Praise

“[A] compelling story, but it’s Downing’s intelligence, his bone-dry wit, his carefully measured sorrow, carefully controlled rage, and beautifully wrought prose that make this memoir such a standout. His writing has the cerebral precision and focus of Joan Didion’s, but it’s got other kinds of fullness and heart, too.” —Huffington Post

 

Related Products