Tag Archives: illness memoir

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