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The Brand New Catastrophe: A Memoir
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Sarabande Books 2017
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Description
"A very funny [memoir] about the frailties of the flesh, the absurdities of modern medicine, and how to stay sane amid it all" (Dave Eggers).

Raucous family memoir meets medical adventure in this "winning literary debut" that explores the public and private theaters of illness (The New York Times Book Review).

After a pituitary tumor bursts in Mike Scalise's brain (diagnosed by, of all people, a physician named Dr. Sunshine), it leaves him with a hole in head, and the hormone disorder acromegaly at age twenty-four. He also faces the exasperating challenge of navigating a new, alien world of illness maintenance among family, friends, and spouse. However, it's his mother, who has a chronic heart condition and a flair for drama, who becomes a complicated model as she competes with her son for the status of "best sick person."

"Captur[ing] all the fright of a medical calamity and the humor and grace necessary to survive it (Kirkus Reviews), "Mike Scalise's startling and slyly hilarious memoir is a heartfelt reminder of how astonishing, how terrifying, how absurd it is to be a body. An essential book for those who've lived through catastrophe, or only imagined it" (Alexandra Kleeman, author of You Too Can Have a Body Like Mine).
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Format:
Adobe EPUB eBook, Kindle Book, OverDrive Read
Street Date:
01/09/2017
Language:
English
ISBN:
9781941411346
ASIN:
B01N4M1TK1
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APA Citation (style guide)

Mike Scalise. (2017). The Brand New Catastrophe: A Memoir. Sarabande Books.

Chicago / Turabian - Author Date Citation (style guide)

Mike Scalise. 2017. The Brand New Catastrophe: A Memoir. Sarabande Books.

Chicago / Turabian - Humanities Citation (style guide)

Mike Scalise, The Brand New Catastrophe: A Memoir. Sarabande Books, 2017.

MLA Citation (style guide)

Mike Scalise. The Brand New Catastrophe: A Memoir. Sarabande Books, 2017.

Note! Citation formats are based on standards as of July 2022. Citations contain only title, author, edition, publisher, and year published. Citations should be used as a guideline and should be double checked for accuracy.
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Date Added:
Jun 12, 2018 16:05:45
Date Updated:
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      • bioText: Mike Scalise's work has appeared in Agni, Indiewire, Ninth Letter, The Paris Review, Wall Street Journal, and other places. He's an 826DC advisory board member, has received fellowships and scholarships from Bread Loaf, Yaddo, and the Ucross Foundation, and was the Philip Roth Writer in Residence at Bucknell University. His memoir, The Brand New Catastrophe, was the recipient of The Center for Fiction's 2014 Christopher Doheny Award.
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title
The Brand New Catastrophe
fullDescription
"A very funny [memoir] about the frailties of the flesh, the absurdities of modern medicine, and how to stay sane amid it all" (Dave Eggers).

Raucous family memoir meets medical adventure in this "winning literary debut" that explores the public and private theaters of illness (The New York Times Book Review).

After a pituitary tumor bursts in Mike Scalise's brain (diagnosed by, of all people, a physician named Dr. Sunshine), it leaves him with a hole in head, and the hormone disorder acromegaly at age twenty-four. He also faces the exasperating challenge of navigating a new, alien world of illness maintenance among family, friends, and spouse. However, it's his mother, who has a chronic heart condition and a flair for drama, who becomes a complicated model as she competes with her son for the status of "best sick person."

"Captur[ing] all the fright of a medical calamity and the humor and grace necessary to survive it (Kirkus Reviews), "Mike Scalise's startling and slyly hilarious memoir is a heartfelt reminder of how astonishing, how terrifying, how absurd it is to be a body. An essential book for those who've lived through catastrophe, or only imagined it" (Alexandra Kleeman, author of You Too Can Have a Body Like Mine).
reviews
      • premium: True
      • source: Publisher's Weekly
      • content:

        October 10, 2016
        Scalise, who has written for the Paris Review and Agni, delivers an offbeat, witty memoir about his life after discovering that he has a brain tumor related to acromegaly, a hormone disorder that causes gigantism. Scalise is unsparing in recounting his reaction to his diagnosis (“You learn at once that you’ve been placed on a very particular spectrum of ugly”) while keeping the reader engaged in a story about catastrophe: “Focus on the oddities and ironies that would seem incredible and ridiculous in any context, not just that of your disaster.” In between descriptions of his various hospital visits and operation, he presents how his illness affected his relationships with his “universe of loved ones, friends and acquaintances, all pulled into a troubled orbit around the busted person at its core.” The most memorable characters are his girlfriend, who helps him deal with tumor-related testosterone issues, and his mother, who suffers her own chronic cardiac problems. He also looks at acromegaly in a broader social context, such as how it affected a number of Hollywood actors including André the Giant. But the heart of Scalise’s sensitive and well-written memoir is his depiction of how he dealt with his illness personally, especially the “complicated role-play” of “becoming infatuated with your own defense mechanisms.”

      • premium: True
      • source: Kirkus
      • content:

        December 1, 2016
        A devastating diagnosis throws a writer and his family into a tailspin.The crushing catastrophe at the core of Scalise's memoir is a burst pituitary tumor that occurred in 2002, when the author was just 24. The author enlivens his anecdote-driven chronicle with dispatches involving his mother, a worrisome matriarch who smokes and drinks despite a congenital heart ailment; his father, who emails pornography to him in a postoperative attempt to jump-start depleted testosterone levels; and his understanding, compassionate longtime girlfriend, Loren. Scalise's tumor, seated behind his eyes, released an increased amount of pituitary hormones into his bloodstream, which can lead to a rare condition called acromegaly, causing facial and body gigantism. In a chapter titled "Q&A," the author discusses the protocol used by physicians to assess him for symptoms, intimately detailing the numerous adverse side effects he subsequently endured throughout the months following his neurosurgery. Excessive sweating, nerve damage, sleep deprivation--all pointed to a positive diagnosis and more agony for Scalise and his family. The author's quirky sense of humor and crisp, hopeful worldview transform this memoir from dreary to fascinating and engaging even after the grueling particulars of his Gamma Knife cranial radiation procedures are laid bare. Adding substance to the story is the medical history of how acromegaly has altered the appearances of notable public figures like Andre the Giant, Tony Robbins, and Olympic skater Scott Hamilton. Combined with his thoughtful meditations on the nature of life's randomly occurring catastrophes, readers are further drawn into the author's story. There is no silver lining here, but Scalise's narrative verve and brisk prose create a winning chronicle of illness, recovery, and "courageous defiance." A frankly written debut memoir that captures all the fright of a medical calamity and the humor and grace necessary to survive it.

        COPYRIGHT(2016) Kirkus Reviews, ALL RIGHTS RESERVED.

      • premium: True
      • source: Booklist
      • content:

        December 15, 2016
        In 2002, a presumably healthy 24-year-old man went to the emergency room with what he believed was a migraine. Instead, Scalise's headache was a symptom of a bleeding pituitary gland tumor in the brain. He writes about his surgery, recovery, Gamma Knife radiotherapy, injections, doctor's visits, and necessary hormone-replacement medications (Hydrocortisol, Synthroid, desmopressin, AndroGel). After the rupture of his pituitary tumor and operation, he develops hypopituitarismthe body's inability to secrete essential hormonesa condition he dubs hormonelessness. Prior to the diagnosis and treatment of the tumor, he unknowingly had acromegaly, an endocrine disorder of excess human growth hormone. Lurch of TV's The Addams Family, Jaws in James Bond movies, and wrestler Andre the Giant also had acromegaly. Scalise handles his calamity with a weird sense of humor and often nonchalance. Along the way, he gets married, works a number of different jobs, and has frequent interactions with his eccentric parents. The effect of illness on self-image and its gravitational pull on family, friends, and spouse are touchingly detailed in this upbeat health memoir.(Reprinted with permission of Booklist, copyright 2016, American Library Association.)

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"A very funny [memoir] about the frailties of the flesh, the absurdities of modern medicine, and how to stay sane amid it all" (Dave Eggers).

Raucous family memoir meets medical adventure in this "winning literary debut" that explores the public and private theaters of illness (The New York Times Book Review).

After a pituitary tumor bursts in Mike Scalise's brain (diagnosed by, of all people, a physician named Dr. Sunshine), it leaves him with a hole in head, and the hormone disorder acromegaly at age twenty-four. He also faces the exasperating challenge of navigating a new, alien world of illness maintenance among family, friends, and spouse. However, it's his mother, who has a chronic heart condition and a flair for drama, who becomes a complicated model as she competes with her son for the status of "best sick person."

"Captur[ing] all the fright of a medical calamity and the humor and grace necessary to survive it...
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Sarabande Books
tableOfContents

Prologue: A Fraction of a Fraction of a Fraction
Part One
Chapter 1: The Drowning Lifeguard
Chapter 2: More Recent Unfinished Business
Chapter 3: Q&A
Chapter 4: The Big Whatever
Part Two
Chapter 5: In the Event of Something Unholy
Chapter 6: A Few Simple Repairs
Chapter 7: Box-O-Man
Chapter 8: Posse
Chapter 9: Another One
Part Three
Chapter 10: Bait
Chapter 11: What Else Can She Give But Her Milk?
Chapter 12: Gamma Knife
Part Four
Chapter 13: A Certain Kind of Busy
Chapter 14: The Most Literal Possible Understanding of the World
Chapter 15: Game
Chapter 16: What Okay Feels Like Now
Chapter 17: Best Man
Chapter 18: Wedding
Part Five
Chapter 19: Jewelry
Chapter 20: Yacht People
Chapter 21: End One, End Two
Part Six
Chapter 22: Perhaps Nothing, Perhaps Everything
Chapter 23: Weird Hormone Thing
Chapter 24: Reunion
Chapter 25: Crazy Lady
Chapter 26: A Universe of No Accidents

bisacCodes
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      • description: BIOGRAPHY & AUTOBIOGRAPHY / Memoirs
      • code: FAM052000
      • description: Family & Relationships / Dysfunctional Families
      • code: HEA039160
      • description: Health & Fitness / Diseases / Endocrine System