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No Laughing Matter (1986)

de Joseph Heller, Speed Vogel

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2152128,174 (3.69)19
An uproarious and frank memoir of illness and recovery, No Laughing Matter is a story of friendship and recuperation from the author of the classic Catch-22. It all began one typical day in the life of Joe Heller. He was jogging four miles at a clip these days, working on his novel God Knows, coping with the complications of an unpleasant divorce, and pigging out once or twice a week on Chinese food with cronies like Mel Brooks, Mario Puzo, and his buddy of more than twenty years, Speed Vogel. He was feeling perfectly fine that day--but within twenty-four hours he would be in intensive care at Manhattan's Mount Sinai Hospital. He would remain hospitalized for nearly six months and leave in a wheelchair. Joseph Heller had Guillain-Barré syndrome, a debilitating, sometimes fatal condition that can leave its victims paralyzed from head to toe. The clan gathered immediately. Speed--sometime artist, sometime businessman, sometime herring taster, and now a coauthor--moved into Joe's apartment as messenger, servant, and shaman. Mel Brooks, arch-hypochondriac of the Western world, knew as much about Heller's condition as the doctors. Mario Puzo, author of the preeminent gangster novel of our time, proved to be the most reluctant man ever to be dragged along on a hospital visit. These and lots of others rallied around the sickbed in a show of loyalty and friendship that not only built a wild and spirited camaraderie but helped bring Joe Heller, writer and buddy extraordinaire, through his greatest crisis. This book is an inspiring, hilarious memoir of a calamitous illness and the rocky road to recuperation--as only the author of Catch-22 and the friend who helped him back to health could tell it. No Laughing Matter is as wacky, terrifying, and greathearted as any fiction Joseph Heller ever wrote.… (més)
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NO LAUGHING MATTER, co-written by CATCH-22 author Joseph Heller and his friend, Speed Vogel, is a fascinating look at Heller's bout with Guillian-Barre Syndrome, a debilitating neurological condition that can quickly kill or cripple. Heller was lucky in that he was diagnosed almost immediately and got the best treatment available. Even at that it took him a couple years to get back to near-normal again. Heller and Vogel write alternating chapters in this memoir, which works fairly well, although it is obvious that Heller is the writer. Vogel, a friend of over twenty years, stuck by Heller throughout his ordeal, taking over all his business and financial dealings for him and visiting him faithfully. (Heller was going through a divorce at the time he was stricken. He later married one of his G-BS nurses.)

It's highly probable that I found this book even more interesting than I might have, because I'd just finished reading Roger King's LOVE AND FATIGUE IN AMERICA, an 'autobiographical novel' about Chronic Fatigue Syndrome (CFS), which mimics many of the same symptoms as G-BS. This is the first Heller book I've read since his other memoir, NOW AND THEN, a few years back. Although Heller ended up writing several novels, he is most famous for that first one, CATCH-22, now considered a classic. I tried to read a couple of his other books, but never could finish them. I would, however, recommend this book (as well as his other memoir) to anyone who is a fan. Joseph Heller died in 1999. ( )
  TimBazzett | Mar 26, 2014 |
This is the true story of Catch 22 author Joseph Heller's experience as a patient with the debilitating neurological disease Guillain-Barre syndrome. It was co-written with his friend Speed Vogel and effectively juxtaposes moments of hilarity with tragedy. He had a prolonged convalescence and ultimately married the nurse who was in charge of his care. ( )
  Jamie638 | Mar 16, 2007 |
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Vogel, Speedautor principaltotes les edicionsconfirmat
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In August of 1982 a twenty-six-year-old man in New Jersey wrote to tell me he had been on a respirator in the intensive care unit of a hospital for fifty-eight days and had not been able to talk all that time.
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An uproarious and frank memoir of illness and recovery, No Laughing Matter is a story of friendship and recuperation from the author of the classic Catch-22. It all began one typical day in the life of Joe Heller. He was jogging four miles at a clip these days, working on his novel God Knows, coping with the complications of an unpleasant divorce, and pigging out once or twice a week on Chinese food with cronies like Mel Brooks, Mario Puzo, and his buddy of more than twenty years, Speed Vogel. He was feeling perfectly fine that day--but within twenty-four hours he would be in intensive care at Manhattan's Mount Sinai Hospital. He would remain hospitalized for nearly six months and leave in a wheelchair. Joseph Heller had Guillain-Barré syndrome, a debilitating, sometimes fatal condition that can leave its victims paralyzed from head to toe. The clan gathered immediately. Speed--sometime artist, sometime businessman, sometime herring taster, and now a coauthor--moved into Joe's apartment as messenger, servant, and shaman. Mel Brooks, arch-hypochondriac of the Western world, knew as much about Heller's condition as the doctors. Mario Puzo, author of the preeminent gangster novel of our time, proved to be the most reluctant man ever to be dragged along on a hospital visit. These and lots of others rallied around the sickbed in a show of loyalty and friendship that not only built a wild and spirited camaraderie but helped bring Joe Heller, writer and buddy extraordinaire, through his greatest crisis. This book is an inspiring, hilarious memoir of a calamitous illness and the rocky road to recuperation--as only the author of Catch-22 and the friend who helped him back to health could tell it. No Laughing Matter is as wacky, terrifying, and greathearted as any fiction Joseph Heller ever wrote.

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