The Book of Dahlia: A Novel

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Simon and Schuster, Mar 11, 2008 - Fiction - 256 pages
2 Reviews
From the author of the critically acclaimed story collection How This Night Is Different comes a dark, arresting, fearlessly funny story of one young woman's terminal illness. In The Book of Dahlia, Elisa Albert walks a dazzling line between gravitas and irreverence, mining an exhilarating blend of skepticism and curiosity, compassion and candor, high and low culture.

Meet Dahlia Finger: twenty-nine, depressed, whip-smart, occasionally affable, bracingly honest, resolutely single, and perennially unemployed. She spends her days stoned in front of the TV, watching the same movies repeatedly, like "a form of prayer." But Dahlia's so-called life is upended by an aggressive, inoperable brain tumor.

Stunned and uncomprehending, Dahlia must work toward reluctant emotional reckoning with the aid of a questionable self-help guide. She obsessively revisits the myriad heartbreaks, disappointments, rages, and regrets that comprise the story of her life -- from her parents' haphazard Israeli courtship to her kibbutz conception; from the role of beloved daughter and little sister to that of abandoned, suicidal adolescent; from an affluent childhood in Los Angeles to an aimless existence in the gentrified wilds of Brooklyn; from a girl with "options" to a girl with none -- convinced that cancer struck because she herself is somehow at fault.

With her take-no-prisoners perspective, her depressive humor, and her extreme vulnerability, Dahlia Finger is an unforgettable anti-heroine. This staggering portrait of one young woman's life and death confirms Elisa Albert as a "witty, incisive" (Variety) and even "wonder-inducing" writer (Time Out New York).
 

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The book of Dahlia: a novel

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At age 29, Dahlia Finger is diagnosed with terminal brain cancer. Dahlia's life is studded with failure-not only hers, but those of the people surrounding her. Her parents divorced when she was quite ... Read full review

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Selected pages

Contents

Something Wrong
1
Understanding Your Diagnosis
11
A Different Kind of Disease
27
The Bright Side
37
Get a Second Opinion
51
Youre the Boss
65
Trust Your Treatment
83
Choose Life
101
Heal Yourself
141
Live Now
157
Laugh
175
Reframe
193
Be Grateful
209
Have Faith
221
Forgive and Forget
237
Be Well
251

Find a Support System
103
Evaluate Your Relationships
123

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About the author (2008)

Elisa Albert is the author of the short story collection How This Night is Different and the novel The Book of Dahlia.  She has taught creative writing at Columbia University and is currently Writer-in-Residence at the Netherlands Institute for Advanced Study in Holland.

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