I just finished reading Doron Weber's remarkable book Immortal Bird: A Family Memoir (Simon and Schuster), an experience which is both exhausting and exhilarating. It deals with what is surely every parent's nightmare, the illness and eventual death of a child, but as we come to know the child and his family it becomes inspirational as well.
The author's first child, Damon, was born with a heart defect and was saved by a very complex operation while still an infant. The next few years (in which two other children were born, neither with any comparable health problem) allowed the family to exist in a normal life; indeed to any onlooker they would seem to have had everything: devoted parents, gifted children, a house in a nice neighborhood in Brooklyn, extensive travels, many friends.
His parents' concern was of course nearly all-consuming, although they knew they had to continue with some semblance of normal family life both for Damon's sake and for that of his younger siblings. Their encounters with unfeeling, distant and often incompetent medical professionals is utterly heartbreaking. But every few pages there are quotes from Damon's blog, read by all his friends, which continue to be so upbeat and at the same time so knowing, so mature, as to amaze the reader.
Weber's skill is such that we can share the family's joy of experiencing Damon for the sixteen precious years of his life, as well as the agony of seeing it cut short after the heart transplant. This is a thrilling human document that everyone should experience for themselves.
Doron Weber will read fom Immortal Bird on Saturday, February 18th at 4:00pm in East Hampton — please join us! Our full calendar of events is available at bookhampton.com.
— Jeremy Nussbaum