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The Edinburgh Neurology Book Club had a unique opportunity to explore Maggie O’Farrell’s1 memoirs ‘I Am, I Am, I Am: Seventeen Brushes With Death’ with the author present, which provided an intimate forum for reflection on the common ground we shared: an unusual familiarity with death. O’Farrell suffered a mysterious neurological illness in childhood—we settled on acute cerebellitis, but the case wasn’t closed—which was a focal point and catalyst for her unsettlingly frequent encounters with death in childhood and early adulthood. Chapters purposefully meander through time and take their titles from the body part at risk, opening with ‘Neck (1990)’, a chilling recount of a near miss with a murderous predator who claimed the life of another young female traveller only days later. In ‘Lungs (1988)’, her impulsive younger-self jumps into deep water and becomes increasingly disoriented …
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