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Author Reflects on 'Adventures of Cancer Bitch' May 14

S.L. Wisenberg will read from her new book and talk about the cathartic powers of writing.

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May 8, 2009 | by Wendy Leopold
EVANSTON, Ill. --- When S.L. Wisenberg was diagnosed with breast cancer in January 2007, she immediately began writing about the experience. On Thursday, May 14, Wisenberg, co-director of Northwestern University's part-time creative writing program, will read from her new book, "The Adventures of Cancer Bitch," and talk about the cathartic powers of writing and the importance of a good sense of humor.

The book about her illness and recovery began as an anonymous blog, morphed into public radio commentaries and recently was published by University of Iowa Press. Free and open to the public, "A Conversation with Sandi Wisenberg: From Blog, to Radio, to Book" will take place at 12:30 p.m. in the Hagstrum Room of University Hall, 1897 Sheridan Road, Evanston campus. A book-signing will follow. Refreshments will be served.

Wisenberg may have lost a breast to cancer but she retained her humor, outrage and skepticism. She held a farewell-to-my-left-breast party before her surgery. After chemotherapy, she had a friend adorn her bald head with henna patterns and anti-war slogans. And throughout the process, she recorded the day-to-day mysteries and routines of being treated for and living with cancer.

"Forget the sappy little pink ribbons," wrote writer Ruth Pennebaker in a review of "Adventures of Cancer Bitch," and prepare to "meet a smart, funny, big-hearted woman who questions everything from her own mortality to career envy to why nobody thinks the particulars of hair loss are as fascinating a subject for dinner-party conversation as she does."

Thinking about new writing projects, Wisenberg says "Cancer Bitch" (the blog) continues somewhat sporadically. "Fortunately I've got some other medical problems that will keep the blog going," she reports.

Wisenberg has been traveling around the country doing readings and talking about everything from the politics of breast cancer to cancer memoirs. "Breast cancer rates may be down in the U.S., but the literature of breast cancer metastasized at a steady pace in 2008," she notes. Wisenberg, who considers herself part of the literary genre, said she did her best to read only memoirs by authors who survived their illness.

In June, Wisenberg's "Cancer Bitch" travels resume when she goes to Madison, Wisc., and later to San Francisco. The author of "The Sweetheart Is in" and "Holocaust Girls: History, Memory and Other Obsessions," Wisenberg has published work in The New Yorker, Ploughshares, Tikkun, New England Review and many other outlets.

For further information about the May 14 event, call (847) 467-4099.
Topics: Campus Life