Glenn Rockowitz

Glenn Rockowitz was a 28-year-old stand-up comic in New York, with a wife just two weeks away from giving birth, when his ongoing tiredness was finally diagnosed as cancer. He was given three months to live. It will hopefully not “spoil” his new memoir of that time, Rodeo in Joliet (Bennett & Hastings, $23.95), to say that he did not actually die. “Your body manufactures cancer,” is how one physician put it to him. “There’s no way around it.” Now relocated to Seattle, Rockowitz returned to his unfinished manuscript a few years ago, writing two pages a day. Unlike Lance Armstrong’s famous cancer memoir, Rodeo is for readers who find caustic humor, rancid smells, sketchy doctors, and unheroic emotions more life-affirming. It would take a scholar of the genre to know if this is the funniest cancer memoir ever written, but it’s got to be up there. Yet there’s nothing flip or false about it. It’s far more grim than jokey. Though today, the author declares, “Comedy, and being able to laugh—as nauseatingly cliché as it sounds—helped me a lot.” (See full review and an excerpt from the book.) MARK D. FEFER

Thu., April 22, 7 p.m., 2010

 
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