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Sontag, Susan (Subject/Author) & Rieff, David (Author). SWIMMING IN A SEA OF DEATH: A SON'S MEMOIR. New York City, NY: Simon & Schuster, 2008. Hardcover. First Edition/First Printing. 180 pages. Fine/Fine.

The author's debut memoir. One of the best books on illness, dying, and death ever written in our time. The First Hardcover Edition. Precedes and should not be confused with all other subsequent editions. Published in a very small and limited first print run that sold out shortly after publication. The First Edition is now scarce. Presents David Rieff's harrowing and reflective account of his mother's illness and death. "Susan Sontag was fiercely, exuberantly alive, and uncompromising in her life no less than her work. At once a report from the frontlines of experimental oncology and a moving, absorbing personal account of his mother's last illness, a courageous and darkly beautiful book" (Oliver Sacks). Rieff's notion of a memoir is not the nakedly "confessional" American version, but the more clinically detached Continental/European one: His book is a reflection on dying and death, that is, on the denial, decline, and (there is no other way to put it) process of decomposition of a gravely ill person, who nevertheless believed that she would beat the odds and survive. In this sense and as the title clearly says, Rieff's book is not so much about illness as about death, surely the most difficult subject of all for any writer or artist to dare tackle. Sontag loved life too much to accommodate any notion of death ever. She was willing to suffer tremendously (she did), in the horrific way that other people would rather not, provided she came out of it alive in the end (she did not). Here is the iconic American intellectual of her time, depicted by her hapless son as being in near-absolute denial about The End, that is, in denial about the idea and the reality of "extinction" despite being in irreversible decline physically, emotionally, and mentally. An absolute "must-have" title for Susan Sontag and David Rieff collectors. This title is a contemporary classic. This is one of very few copies of the First Hardcover Edition/First Printing still available online and despite its imperfection (one ding/slight bump on the front board corner), is still in fine condition: Clean, crisp, and bright, a beauty. A very scarce copy thus. A fine copy. (SEE ALSO OTHER SUSAN SONTAG TITLES IN OUR CATALOG). ISBN 0743299469. $50.00

This item is available for purchase. This web page was most recently updated on July 24, 2017.