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Cory Taylor wrote this remarkable book in the space of a few weeks before her death from melanoma-related cancer in July 2016. In a tremendous creative surge, as her body weakened, she described the experience of knowing she would soon die.
Her powerful and beautifully written book is a clear-eyed account of the tangle of her feelings, her reflections on her life, her memories of the lives and deaths of her parents. She tells us why it was important to her to have the ability to choose the circumstances of her death.
Dying: A Memoir is a breathtaking book about vulnerability and strength, courage and humility, anger and acceptance. It is a deeply affecting meditation on dying, but it is also a funny and wise tribute to life.
Cory Taylor was born in Queensland in 1955. She was an award-winning novelist and screenwriter who also published short fiction and children’s books. Her first novel, Me and Mr Booker, won the Commonwealth Writers’ Prize (Pacific Region) in 2012 and her second novel, My Beautiful Enemy, was shortlisted for the Miles Franklin Award in 2014. She died on 5 July 2016, a couple of months after Dying: A Memoir was published.
‘A fine and sorrowful finale.’ Sydney Morning Herald
‘If a more open discussion of death is needed in the West, Taylor’s book is a manual for the task. It is full of wisdom and vulnerability; it is also profoundly reassuring. Dying, she repeatedly says, is deeply lonely. No one can do it with you. But this book might be a companion, made all the more solid by its lack of sentimentality and any other false comforts.’ Times Literary Supplement
‘What is truly profound about this book is that—though itought to be harrowing—it is astonishingly easy, if not strangely uplifting, toread. In part, this is because the narrative voice is so gentle, and tightlycontrolled. Every scene has a radiant quality; it glows.’ Conversation
‘…As this quietly remarkable book illustrates, that kind oflooking entails its own tribute to the sweetness of life.’ Radio Australia
‘Unflinchingly honest…This deep meditation is beautifullywritten and destined to be an important piece of the conversation surroundingdeath. Taylor’s last testament to life is a welcome departing gift from athoughtful and inspired author.’ Publishers Weekly, starredreview
‘An eloquent plea for a more humane approach to death and amoving meditation on the life that leads to that end.’ Kirkus Reviews, starredreview
‘This is a powerful, poignant and lucid last testament, at once an eloquent plea for autonomy in death, and an evocation of the joys, sorrows and sheer unpredictability and precariousness of life. Taylor wonders if she has found the ‘right tone’ for her story. Her readers will find that she has. It’s a fine contribution to our much-needed dialogue with death.’
‘Cory Taylor’s book is both a precise and moving memoir about the randomness of family, and an admirable intellectual response to the randomness of life and death. We should all hope for as vivid a looking-back, and as cogent a looking-forward, when we reach the end ourselves.’
‘It takes courage to contemplate one’s death and extraordinary clarity and generosity to write about it like this. Dying: A Memoir is a gift to us all, a book that is not afraid to navigate darkness and that sees us through to the end…We need books like this, a guide to dying, but also, and especially, a guide to living.’
‘This small, powerful book offers a clean engagement with life’s conclusion: with clarity and courage, the author finds words to escort us towards silence.’
‘Dying is a powerful, passionate, unflinching memoir about facing death and the choices and difficulty and beauty that entails. It should be required reading for all of us.’
‘A fine and sorrowful finale.’
‘[Taylor] commands a glorious structure and control. She arrives at “the edge of the words” and in her final paragraphs performs an alchemical transformation of her book’s imagery and metaphors and moments into something light and quite transcendent — the whole not only surpassing the sum of its parts but illuminating them with a magnificent blaze.’
‘Funny, insightful and, most of all, consoling. It does what all great writing does: makes you instantly feel less alone. It’s the best thing I’ve read this year.’
‘A clear analysis of the dying process and another important contribution to the debate about drug assisted euthanasia… [Taylor’s] memoir offers as much insight and reflection as anyone could deliver in just 150 pages.’
‘Taylor’s challenging, touching, sad story about her dying, is a eulogic tribute to her immense talent, but one that leaves practical comfort to us all.’
‘Along with the precision of her writing, it is Taylor’s lack of self-righteousness that lends this book its very special quality.’
‘2016 has seen the publication of a number of exceptional books by beautiful writers whose poignant tales takes us right to the edge of the abyss.’
‘Unflinchingly honest…This deep meditation is beautifully written and destined to be an important piece of the conversation surrounding death. Taylor’s last testament to life is a welcome departing gift from a thoughtful and inspired author.’
‘What is truly profound about this book is that—though it ought to be harrowing—it is astonishingly easy, if not strangely uplifting, to read. In part, this is because the narrative voice is so gentle, and tightly controlled. Every scene has a radiant quality; it glows.’
‘…As this quietly remarkable book illustrates, that kind of looking entails its own tribute to the sweetness of life.’
‘An eloquent plea for a more humane approach to death and a moving meditation on the life that leads to that end.’