I Am, I Am, I Am – Maggie O’Farrell

Review From User :

OMG OMG OMG! Pogo stick time!

Dear Maggie O'Farrell,

I'm bouncing high, zigzagging through your 17 brushes with death. Barefoot because my socks were knocked off. I can't stop! Yep, I'm downright manic! What an amazing memoir you wrote! One of the best books I've read this year!

I am I am I am absolutely in love with your book. I can't help it that I'm stuttering. It's that or remain speechless, which isn't my style.

My brain is on fire! Matchy-matchy: My head, your language. Oh, your tone! The way my brain is wired, your sentences are electricity: both jumpy sparks and smooth rivers of fire. I know, I know, I sound all dramatic, but it's your fault I'm talking this way. I love all your commas, your flowy narrative lists of how and why; bullet points not required. Punctuation for maximum impact, without being overly dramatic.

I'm glad you stuck with brushes. I'm glad you called your events "brushes with death" because frankly, if you had called them "near-death experiences," I wouldn't have believed you. No one almost dies 17 times! Plus, I might not have picked up your book, because near-death experiences usually are woo-woo-you see god or angels or ghosts or white or light-and that's not my thing. Calling them brushes with death is perfect.

Shiver shiver, I'm scared! You sure have some scary stories, missy. And such a variety! Your several scary hospital stories are super sad, and I feel for you because I know one of them will be with you forever. Your three scary water stories are harrowing (and really wet and cold) and they make me glad I don't play in the water anymore. The three Scary Strange Men stories had my heart pumping fast; it doesn't seem fair that you had more than one such encounter.

Tell me I don't just like to watch train wrecks, please! I wondered why I was so jazzed to be watching your train wrecks: What kind of jerk am I Am I just looking for drama That's not cool! And then it hit me-as I was reading, I knew that you would survive in the end. That soothing thought is so unlike what occurs when I read a novel, where I have no idea whether the good guy is going to make it. I love it that you don't play the victim even though you are one. The times when you are reckless, you cop to it and try to understand it. Good stuff.

Thanks for having lunch with me. Well, that's what it felt like, anyway-I might as well have been sitting across from you in a café gulping down your stories, which were so heartfelt and honest, vivid and human. It would have been a long lunch, for sure! Your writing conveys so much emotion, which is what makes great art.

Forgive me my gush:

-There isn't one story that I didn't like, not one.
-Your book reads like a novel yet feels so very personal.
-I love it that you don't sensationalize events that would have easily allowed you to go overboard.
-I love your imagery.
-I love it that you're so self-aware, and so insightful about the human condition.
-I love how you introduce each chapter with a classy and intricate drawing of the organ (or body part) that the event affected: very clever!
-I love it that there is even suspense-I was so wound up, wondering how in hell you would get out of scary jams.
-I love the pace: You sometimes give a hint of what happened, and then you talk about your past a while, before completing the story. I never felt like I needed to get back to the action.
-The idea of your book is so completely unique.
-I feel like the book concept gave me the best possible reading experience-I got to go to scary places but I knew you'd be okay.

Wow, you're the queen of narrative lists! Remember how I mentioned your "narrative lists" There's one long sentence with a zillion commas that sums up your twenties-your words are so carefully chosen, your succinctness noted and appreciated.

Here's a snippet of that sentence:

"...the dreary rental flats, the uncertain and mind-shrivelling jobs, the late-night urban wanderings, the last buses, the monthly travel passes, the skipped meals, the ill-judged boyfriends, the pressing calls made from phone-boxes"

I'll probably reread it several times over, it's so good. Paragraphs like that one leave me in awe.

Where did your stories take me, missy They took me down memory lane, where I plucked my close calls out for closer examination. Yes, I did have one Scary Strange Man story. Yes, I did have one scary hospital story. Yes, I did have scary motherhood stories. I still find myself searching my brain for other close calls. And like I thought as I was reading your stories, what if one or two factors had altered the close calls and had left me deformed, incapacitated, or dead It made me think about luck, fate, fear, unfairness, randomness. About what-if's, about bravery vs. stupidity. It made me think about how a mere second can make a difference between life and death.

Why did you let them give you two covers I'm jealous--I know there are a bunch a people who got a cool cover with a heart on it. I, on the other hand, got a cover with a big ugly brown feather that, splat, blocked out part of the title. A nasty smudge-wipe it off, please! As an ex-editor who needs all letters and words to be strong and visible, I claim I got ripped off. I really really wanted the heart cover.

All I can say is, where have you been all my life I will be running to your other books, no doubt about it, because-

This is what makes me obsessed with reading. This, right here.

Thank you for listening,
An avid new fan


Category: Adults, Autobiography & Biographies

An extraordinary memoir – told entirely in near-death experiences – from one of Britain’s best-selling novelists, for fans of Wild, When Breath Becomes Air, and The Year of Magical Thinking.
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We are never closer to life than when we brush up against the possibility of death.

I Am, I Am, I Am is Maggie O’Farrell’s astonishing memoir of the near-death experiences that have punctuated and defined her life. The childhood illness that left her bedridden for a year, which she was not expected to survive. A teenage yearning to escape that nearly ended in disaster. An encounter with a disturbed man on a remote path. And, most terrifying of all, an ongoing, daily struggle to protect her daughter – for whom this book was written – from a condition that leaves her unimaginably vulnerable to life’s myriad dangers.

Seventeen discrete encounters with Maggie at different ages, in different locations, reveal a whole life in a series of tense, visceral snapshots. In taut prose that vibrates with electricity and restrained emotion, O’Farrell captures the perils running just beneath the surface and illuminates the preciousness, beauty, and mysteries of life itself.

I Am, I Am, I Am - Part 1

I Am, I Am, I Am - Part 2

I Am, I Am, I Am - Part 3

I Am, I Am, I Am - Part 4

I Am, I Am, I Am - Part 5