Tales from the Cancer Ward, named for Alexander Solzhenitsyn’s novel Cancer Ward, gives us insight into so much more than medical procedures. It documents fleeting moments of grace: a Vietnamese man tracking single raindrops on the outside of a hospital windowpane; a magpie that lands on Cox’s shoulder. It also includes his lamentations. He is annoyed with alternative healers, war, celebrity culture and consumerism. He likes a good kvetch. And why not? His complaints are part of his energetic engagement with the outside world. As a man in a fragile body, he is observant, loving and appreciative of the great transformations of the difficult medical procedures that have given him life, and an added understanding of life.
Brenda Walker The Australian, May 27, 2011
There are many reasons why keen bookworms should read Paul Cox’s memoir of his battle with liver cancer. But here are three quick ones: first, the foreword, written by distinguished US film critic and fellow cancer sufferer Roger Ebert, is a truly exquisite piece of writing; second, journalist and writer John Larkin’s introduction sets the scene with those same observational and literary skills he employed as a respected Age feature writer in the 1970s and ’80s; and the third reason is Cox’s own voice. As he faces his death sentence, and then a reprieve, thanks to a liver transplant, the film director takes us on an extraordinary journey of despair, pain, hope and love.
The Weekly Review May 13, 2011