Swimming in a Sea of Death: A Son's Memoir

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Simon and Schuster, Jan 8, 2008 - Biography & Autobiography - 364 pages
1 Review
Both a memoir and an investigation, Swimming in a Sea of Death is David Rieff's loving tribute to his mother, the writer Susan Sontag, and her final battle with cancer. Rieff's brave, passionate, and unsparing witness of the last nine months of her life, from her initial diagnosis to her death, is both an intensely personal portrait of the relationship between a mother and a son, and a reflection on what it is like to try to help someone gravely ill in her fight to go on living and, when the time comes, to die with dignity.

Rieff offers no easy answers. Instead, his intensely personal book is a meditation on what it means to confront death in our culture. In his most profound work, this brilliant writer confronts the blunt feelings of the survivor -- the guilt, the self-questioning, the sense of not having done enough.

And he tries to understand what it means to desire so desperately, as his mother did to the end of her life, to try almost anything in order to go on living.

Drawing on his mother's heroic struggle, paying tribute to her doctors' ingenuity and faithfulness, and determined to tell what happened to them all, Swimming in a Sea of Death subtly draws wider lessons that will be of value to others when they find themselves in the same situation.
 

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LibraryThing Review

User Review  - bobbieharv - LibraryThing

He needed more distance before trying to write about this. He's still too close, too devastated, too guilty. While it may have been therapeutic for him, I can't imagine Susan Sontag wanting these ... Read full review

Swimming in a sea of death: a son's memoir

User Review  - Not Available - Book Verdict

The death of a parent is never easy, but when your mother is the well-known Susan Sontag, is a memoir even necessary? For Rieff (At the Point of a Gun: Democratic Dreams and Armed Intervention), it ... Read full review

Selected pages

Contents

Section 1
1
Section 2
23
Section 3
45
Section 4
65
Section 5
85
Section 6
103
Section 7
123
Section 8
139
Section 9
159
Section 10
171
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About the author (2008)

David Rieff is the author of eight previous books, including Swimming in a Sea of Death, At the Point of a Gun: Democratic Dreams and Armed Intervention; A Bed for the Night: Humanitarianism in Crisis; and Slaughterhouse: Bosnia and the Failure of the West. He lives in New York City.

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