The Unique Big C Memoir

A few years ago I took a one day writing course with Tania Katan at Arizona State University’s Piper Writers House. We sat at the big rectangular seminar table. Tania gave us writing prompts and we had timed periods to write.

I’ve always responded well to tests (except when I flunked my first driving test, but that’s different  wink wink), and to me these were just timed tests. So I flung myself into each timed episode, writing furiously to beat the clock.

After Tania said to stop writing after the second or third assignment, she looked down the table at me and said, “Luanne writes like it’s a full contact sport.” I thought that was hilarious and, like a lot of humor, true.

That’s what My One-night Stand With Cancer, Tania’s memoir about having cancer at the age of 21, is like: humor that springs from a deep well of truth.

By the time she was 31, Tania had had cancer twice.

But it’s not just Tania’s young age as a cancer survivor that makes her book so unique. It’s also that she’s a lesbian and at 21, as she was faced with losing her breast, Tania was just figuring out her sexuality and her identity.

From Tania Katan’s memoir I learned that humor can bind wounds for both writer and reader. Also, it can bind people with few commonalities together in that moment of reading. In this memoir, humor is a way of looking slant at tragedy. By this off-center viewpoint, the poignancy is enhanced, and the triumphant penultimate scene of the book made me sob.

If you want to read more about Tania, you can visit her website!


Filed under Book Review, Books, Creative Nonfiction, Essay, Memoir, Nonfiction, Research and prep for writing, Writing

14 responses to “The Unique Big C Memoir

  1. This sounds like something I’d like to read.

  2. Thanks for sharing this Luanne. This looks like a book that would very much interest me.

  3. I enjoy your posts, Luanne. Always something interesting.

  4. Sometimes, when faced with tragedy laughing is the only thing we can do; a coping mechanism to keep from facing our darkest fears. …a.k.a. the best medicine! Nice blog Luanne!

    • Luanne

      Andy, you are another one who is a very funny writer. Your blog posts are hysterical, even when you are writing about heavy topics. Thanks for stopping over here!!!

  5. I think I’ll read this one. Maybe it will help me get back to my memoir.

  6. Another interesting-sounding read! I need to get off my butt and buy one of these.

    • Luanne

      Oooh, mm, you just gave me a good idea. After I’m done with my memoir collection (going to take some time hahahaha), I should write a post that is just a library/shopping list (with one sentence remind about book contents) of all the books I’ve posted about. Then readers can print it and take it with them.

  7. I’m not doing too well with my New Year’s resolutions, some regarding writing about things that are not cancerous nor biographical. Luannne you are not being helpful!

  8. I am so glad to have you share these varied memoirs. I would study them if I were into reading non-fiction right now. Unfortunately, I am in the midst of two different ‘reading for pleasure’ books. One is a baker/entrepreneur who solves mysteries and the other is the 20th in a series of books by Janet Evanovich. Both are very wacky! Smiles, Robin

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