A Brain Wider Than the Sky: A Migraine Diary

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Simon and Schuster, May 26, 2009 - Biography & Autobiography - 304 pages
With more than one in ten Americans -- and more than one in five families -- affected, the phenomenon of migraine is widely prevalent and often ignored or misdiagnosed. By his mid-forties, Andrew Levy's migraines were occasional reminders of a persistent illness that he'd wrestled with half his life, though he had not fully contemplated their physical and psychological influence on the individual, family, and society at large. Then in 2006 Levy was struck almost daily by a series of debilitating migraines that kept him essentially bedridden for months, imprisoned by pain and nausea that retreated only briefly in gentler afternoon light.

When possible, Levy kept careful track of what triggered an onset -- the "thin, taut" pain from drinking a bourbon, the stabbing pulse brought on by a few too many M&M's -- and in luminous prose recounts his struggle to live with migraines, his meticulous attempts at calibrating his lifestyle to combat and avoid them, and most tellingly, the personal relationship a migraineur develops -- an almost Stockholm syndrome-like attachment -- with the indescribable pain, delirium, and hallucinations.

Levy read about personalities and artists throughout history with migraine -- Alexander Pope, Nietzsche, Freud, Virginia Woolf, even Elvis -- and researched the treatments and medical advice available for migraine sufferers. He candidly describes his rehabilitation with the aid of prescription drugs and his eventual reemergence into the world, back to work and writing. An enthralling blend of memoir and provocative analysis, A Brain Wider Than the Sky offers rich insights into an illness whose effects are too often discounted and whose sufferers are too often overlooked.

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User Review  - Kirkus

A better-than-average entry in the illness-memoir genre.Levy (English, director of Writer's Studio/Butler Univ.; The First Emancipator: The Forgotten Story of Robert Carter, the Founding Father Who ... Read full review

LibraryThing Review

User Review  - tjsjohanna - LibraryThing

I wanted to like this more, but I found it somewhat tedious. Mr. Levy spends much of the books sharing his studies into the philosophical side of migraines and historical figures who had them. But ... Read full review


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Migraine Parties

Enlightenment Part 2
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About the author (2009)

Andrew Levy is Edna Cooper Chair in English at Butler University. He is author of the critically acclaimed Brain Wider Than the Sky, and the award-winning biography The First Emancipator.

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