I know I will likely get flayed alive for rating this one so low, but I just can't see the worship behind itFirst, let me say that the writing of the book by someone in such a state is an amazing accomplishment and I dare not take that away from him (For those that don't know, it was dictated by JeanDominique Bauby former editor of the french Elle who had a severe seizure and after damage to his brain stem, was diagnosed with locked in syndrome The entire book was dictated, letter by letter, by the blinking of his left eye.)That said, you would think a memoir like this would at least try to present you with a likeable character who has something to say about life Now, there were a couple of wistful, almost beautiful passages But for the most part, I felt a sort of smugness in his attitude (especially towards women) that just pulled me out of any feelings the book tried to well up in me.Maybe I am a terrible person, but I just couldn't see why anyone would be so impressed by this book Any time he would start to reel me in, one of his thoughts would throw me right out to sea again. JeanDominique Baube, the fortysomething editor of Elle magazine in Paris, husband, father, was stricken by a rare brain disease After several weeks in a coma he awoke to find that he was a prisoner inside his own body, with control over only his left eye, and motion limited to twisting his head left and right, somewhat Yet this man managed, with help, to not only maintain his sanity and his optimism, but his appreciation of beauty and his sense of humor This is a case in which imagination is a critical tool to one’s very survival The guy wrote a book using littlethan his left eye blinking code to an interpreter This is not at all a depressing memoir It is inspiring In fact it is one of the most positive, uplifting things I have ever read. Prognosis: Man may be inspired find beauty even at his own death bed.But there is a question even Bauby asks himself: Does all of this a novel make?No (Not even a decent anecdote?)It is, however, testament of the prognosis which questions the central Meaning of Life question Bauby finds personal beauty, even if he cannot do anything with it but blink it in code to his nurse since he is absolutely paralyzed But this is no Anne Frank, however This is no beauty pertaining to a person trapped I feel some (but not complete) pity for Mr Bauby The tale this man tells is one of robbed mobility, but not of robbed dignity or money It bothered me a little that the editor of French Elle magazine, rich and powerful as he was, still alludes to and rubs in our faces his superiority, his nouveau riche lifestyle (cars, trips, experiences) Even though it did not answer the central What is Life About? question, it did made me ponder something perhaps eveninteresting: Can a healthy individual truly envy a vegetable? R.I.P. “Does it take the harsh light of disaster to show a person’s true nature?” The situation is unimaginable: waking from a coma to find yourself trapped in your own body, able to think clearly and understand what is going on around you, but unable to partake in any of what transpires It’s called “locked in syndrome,” and JeanDominique Bauby finds himself a victim of it when he awakes from a coma following a serious stroke that damaged his brain stem and left him almost totally paralyzed; he has only limited facial movements, slight control over his neck, and use of only one eye It is with this single good eye that Bauby is able to communicate with the world, using an excruciatingly slow code of blinking that requires time, energy, and a great deal of attention and patience And it is also thanks to this one eye that we have this firsthand account, dictated by Bauby from his hospital bed, recounting the details of his life in the wake of tragedy.Far from being restricted by his condition, Bauby unleashes the full force of his literary capabilities (which were quite estimable, considering that he was the editor of French Elle), leaving us with a wry, touching, and deeply affecting memoir that shines with descriptive flourishes and deep insights His perspective in the wake of tragedy is aweinspiring and leaves the reader with a deep respect for his fortitude; truly, this is a man I would have loved to have had an opportunity to have a conversation with, just to try and absorb a small degree of his wisdom and experience “The Diving Bell and the Butterfly” has moments of regret, frustration, sadness and aching loneliness, but curiously absent are anger and selfrighteousness Bauby never curses his misfortune but focuses on getting by with the hand he was dealt To read his memoir is to get to know a truly extraordinary man whose spirit refused to be crushed and whose mind and imagination allowed him to survive in the most constrained of circumstances To say that “The Diving Bell and the Butterfly” is about the triumph of the human spirit is a sorry understatement, and does little to pay tribute to an amazing man.“The Diving Bell and the Butterfly” is a slight volume, to be sure, but it feels wrong to criticize it for that when one considers the conditions under which it was composed And considering that Bauby packs a hefty punch in such a short page count, it is well worth the experience.Grade: A This book involves 28 short stories, or you can say, pieces of memory from the former editor of French Elle magazine, JeanDominique Bauby, who was permanently paralyzed after a severe stroke His only way of communication was by blinking his left eye and that was how he patiently spelled this book out As he put it, and I firmly believed in him, that his main task was to compose the first of these bedridden travel notes so that I shall be ready when my publisher's emissary arrives to take my dictation, letter by letter In my head I churn over every sentence ten times, delete a word, add an adjective, and learn my text by heart, paragraph by paragraph There was no particular order for the topics in this book, nor was there any certain connection among them What made it precious for me is how detailed JeanDominique depicted of what he saw, what he heard(despite his serious hearing disorder), and most important of all, what he felt He was suddenly forced to embrace his new life after the misfortune, but it's rather impressive that he didn't think so sometimes Although I could feel the helplessness in his voice and the eagerness of freedom when he was comfined to an unfamiliar wheelchairjust like a diving bell waiting to be opened upthere were times he really enjoyed himself in spite of his disability In a nutshell, he chose to be a carefree butterfly, making his spirit live on forever without burden and pain What's , this book/his words made me realize how blissful I am because I can live out loud, do whatever I want, go wherever I desire, talk and hang out with friends/family whenever we're availableetc Therefore, he kind of reminded us to know and cherish such blessing since we never know how precious it is until we lose it Lastly, The Diving Bell and the Butterfly is definitely a mustread in life and I highly recommend it to everyone The original version is in French, Le Scaphandre et le Papillon, and I found the translation one captured his meanings pretty well By the way, I can't put an end to this review without quoting something worth valuing, so here it is: Capturing the moment, these small slices of life, these small gusts of happiness, move medeeply than all the rest. **spoiler alert**In 1995, JeanDominique Bauby, the editorinchief of French Elle magazine, suffered a massive stroke to his brain stem which left him totally paralyzed and in a condition called lockedin syndrome He could only move his left eyelid For my part, I would have preferred to have died instantly than to have suffered what Mr Bauby suffered But we don't always get to choose, and to his credit he seems to have made the best of his situation He did write this book after all, but only by dictating it one letter at a time by blinking his left eyelid You can find inspiration in this book, you can find beauty; it just doesn't mask the tragedy and the suffering. I won’t recommend reading this book while signing up for insurance I started a job recently and was overwhelmed by the different ways I could insure myself and loved ones against horrible tidings [The following are actual insurance plans I couldn’t make these up.]Benefits Department: Do you want life insurance?Me: Yes! Someone should profit from my death Party at the funeral home!Benefits Department: Do you want supplement group variable universal life insurance?Me: I could be worth $2.5 million? Tell my parents! I am a wild success!Benefits Department: Do you want life insurance for your spouse?Me: I hadn’t thought of that Yes! I will definitely miss the cash flow from my sugar daddy once the arsenic kicks in Benefits Department: Do you want life insurance for your child?Me: What a sick question Why would I care about cash if my child has just died?Benefits Department: For the funeral expenses.Me: Oh, okay Yes.Benefits Department: Do you want to enroll in the group shortterm disability insurance? Group income insurance? Accidental death and dismemberment insurance? Long term care insurance? Group personal excess liability insurance? Business travel accident insurance?Me: OMG I have never felt so fragile I could die or, at least, lose a limb in a thousand different ways Did you hear about the guy who was decapitated by the elevator doors? Blood and gore splattered all over the other passengers!Benefits Department: [Silence]Me: Everything Sign me up for everything After all, I ride at least four elevators a day to work [Imagine I am really good at mental math here.] That’s 1,040 possibilities each year to lose my mind, literally Just from elevators!Benefits Department: [Pause] I need you to confirm “yes” or “no” for each type of insurance.Me: Yes Yes Yes Yes Yes Yes Benefits Department: Do you want to prepare a health care proxy to instruct your loved ones how to care for you when you are too sick to speak and/or have no control over very important medical decisions about life support or pain treatment?Me: You are the worst, insurance person Do you derive twisted pleasure picturing me like that? Benefits Department: [Smug silence]Me: Yes I would like a health care proxy Benefits Department: Do you want to sign up for…By the eventual end of this conversation, the Benefits Department informed me that several hundred dollars would be deducted from every pay check to cover these nefarious insurance schemes preying simultaneously on my fear of dying, concern for my family, general risk aversion, and fondness for the mere possibility of large sums of money being transferred to my bank account I called my husband to discuss my selections He was aghast Husband: Cassy, this seems excessive We don’t need this much coverage We need some money left over in your pay check to buy food Or we will indeed die early Of hunger.Me: But what if I die? What if you die? What if the baby dies? What if I’m paralyzed after a massive stroke in my forties I cannot move anything except I can blink my left eyelid While people treat me like I’m an invisible, vapid vegetable, my mind is as sharp as ever I could write the most beautiful, poignant memoir packed into a concise 132 pages by blinking that one good eye to select letters when the alphabet is read aloud to me over and over by a very patient soul What then, husband?Then it hit me This book It should not be read while one signs up for insurance It lingers in the back of the mind This could happen to me Or to you This happened to JeanDominique Bauby Read this Not during benefits enrollment But read this. ‘Lockedin syndrome: paralysed from head to toe, the patient, his mind intact, is imprisoned inside his own body, unable to speak or move In my case, blinking my left eyelid is my only means of communication’In December , JeanDominique Bauby, editorinchief of French ‘Elle’ and the father of two young children, suffered a massive stroke and found himself paralysed and speechless, but entirely conscious, trapped by what doctors call ‘lockedin syndrome’ Using his only functioning muscle – his left eyelid – he began dictating this remarkable story, painstakingly spelling it out letter by letterHis book offers a haunting, harrowing look inside the cruel prison of lockedin syndrome, but it is also a triumph of the human spirit The Diving Bell and the ButterflyLockedinsyndrome: totally paralyzed, unable to speak, but completely conscious I find it hard to imagine a condition that's worse than this one People who suffer a stroke, are at a risk to suffer from this condition (luckily, mostly not this bad) Is there still dignity in a life like this? The writer of this memoir, suffered from this condition, and was only able to move one eye His left eye Needless to say this was a powerful read Its popularity is partly due to the fact that this book was made into a successful movie However, there's a similar memoir that is not as well known as this one, and which I thought was much better andpowerful : Only The Eyes Say Yes: A Love Story If you liked The Diving Bell and the Butterfly, I highly recommend Only the eyes say yes. After suffering a catastrophic cerebrovascular stroke, JeanDominique Bauby wakes up with a rare condition known as ‘locked in’ syndrome Reduced to only being able to move his left eyelid to communicate, he takes us through his days following the event and his struggle to regain his identity I’ve wanted to read this for a long time, but have never felt in the right frame of mind to read it I work within neurosciences, and a lot of our patients have either had strokes or have some other form of neurological condition, and I wanted to read this in order to understand a bitabout the experiences these individuals go through and the (often harrowing) range of emotions this can encompass It’s a short read, as JeanDominique transcends simply relating his time in hospital and his attempts at recovery This is about trying to rediscover identity in an individual who has lost all of himself Without the ability to communicate, he breaks down recounting that he can’t ruffle his son’s hair on a whim any, and he lives for the scent of fried food to help him remember fond memories At times he describes his dreams, with an almost stream of conscious approach that I found both deeply moving at times, but also jarring against the harsh reality of his current life It’s so sad, I just can’t quite put into words how awful it must be to live an almost ‘half life’ like this, where sounds and memories are warped to the point where it’s difficult to remember what’s real and what isn’t any I rated this three stars, which means I enjoyed it, but I think the rating reflects my overall experience and feelings when I finished it I don’t want to reread it, I appreciate and highly value what I have read, but my mood was so flat by the end The bleakness is just made worse by the realness.