Successful novelist Joseph Heller was 58 and separated from his wife when the mysterious illness known as Guillain-Barre Syndrome struck him down. Suddenly paralyzed over most of his body, unable even to swallow food, Heller was rushed into hospital care and given lots of neurological tests. Among his visitors were a can-do Dustin Hoffman, expert hypochondriac Mel Brooks, and terrified Mario Puzo. G-B is a strange and incurable disease that kills some, goes away in others, returns in still others. Heller alternates chapters that describe his experience and recovery with much less interesting ones by his friend Speed Vogel, a sometime artist and jack-of-all-trades who took care of Heller, his home, his bills, and other matters. Eventually the descriptions of parties and getaways in the Hamptons, Cannes, and St. Croix get a little tiresome.
This report prepared by David Loftus
One morning Joseph Heller was unable to chew his food at breakfast, which was alarming in itself because he loved to eat. Even more alarming though was the reason for his inability to masticate--a frightening neuromuscular disease called Guillian-Barre' Syndrome, a progressive disease that can leave its victim paralyzed and unable to breathe...or worse. "No Laughing Matter" is the account of the author's battle with the disease. Told in a poignant, yet lighthearted style, it follows the progression of the disease and at no point is the reader or the author sure of what the outcome will be.
This report prepared by Bill Brumlow