Based on Evan Handler’s hit off-Broadway play (called by The New York Times laceratingly funny and self-revealing”), Time on Fire is a remarkable memoir of illness and survival, love and hope shot through with anger, humor, and piercing eloquence.
Evan Handler was twenty-four and already an accomplished actor when he was diagnosed with acute leukemia and told that his chances for survival were slim. Resigning his role in Neil Simon’s Biloxi Blues, Handler checked into New York Memorial’s Cancer Center and began a bizarre, sometimes uproarious five-year journey in and out of hospitals a raucous rump through Hell” only to face an equally arduous return to the life he left behind.
Time on Fire is the story of Handler’s passage into a twilight world: a place of lonely, haunting despair lit by moments of exultation and hilarity; a world where the truly horrible and the hysterically funny not only coexist but seem to become the same thing. Told with the trenchant humor of a survivor, it takes a wry, unflinching look at the absurdity of fighting for life in a place where death is what is most expected, and a health care system on the brink of madness. It is the story of refusing to succumb to the pressures of conformity that threatened his recovery and of the fierce struggle to find the road back to health at all costs.
From the comic accounts of his trip to a Madison Avenue sperm bank ( Nothing but the best address for my progeny”) and his experimentation with psychic healing, to the portrayal of the unraveling effects of his illness on his family and girlfriend, Handler records with astonishing precision the full emotional range of his experience. The result is a bracing, achingly poignant account of his determination to steal time and reclaim life. Glowing with uncommon insights and uncompromising honesty, Time on Fire is a testament to the bravery and the endurance of the human spirit.
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A visceral knockout of a book, a Kafkaesque Saturday Night Live version of negotiating for your life. Evan Handler is a brilliant writer, unrelenting in his observation of the sacred and the absurd.”
Amy Tan, author of The Joy Luck Club and The Bonesetter’s Daughter
Brutally frank and blisteringly angry, Handler’s story is also the funniest, most enjoyable account of a battle with cancer you’ll ever read. Remarkably open and life-affirming, Handler’s account is as valuable as Norman Cousins’s Anatomy of an Illness and as wonderfully literate as Anatole Broyard’s Intoxicated by My Illness.”
A raw, thoughtful memoir suspenseful and harrowing moving and admirable.”
New York Times Book Review
Vivid, whip smart Spiked with humor and dizzying clarity, Handler's story is a genuine testament to human will.”
Angry, hilarious, and riveting. A wildly humorous, keenly observed journey. A ceaselessly compassionate vision of the human spirit”
San Francisco Review of Books
A captivating memoir. Entertaining, harrowing and ennobling. Handler speaks with a fresh voice that is entirely riveting.”
Blunt, swaggering, observant, and seductively charming. A great performance.”
A simply magnificent book, beautifully written, heartbreakingly honest, inspirationally courageous. I could not put it down. It deserves to become a classic.”
Larry Kramer, activist, author, and playwright of The Normal Heart, The Destiny of Me
A harrowing and funny account of a triumphant fight to beat 'incurable' leukemia.”
A truly great book. I cried at the humour and laughed at the pain. You’ll only know what I mean when you read Time on Fire. And you must at all costs.”
Neil Simon, Pulitzer Prize winning playwright of Lost in Yonkers, The Odd Couple, Barefoot in the Park, Brighton Beach Memoirs, Biloxi Blues
Evan Handler’s Time on Fire is a beautifully told story of one man’s experience with cancer. It is honest, emotional, and most of all a wonderful teacher for all of us who must face adversity at one time or another, either as an individual or family member.”
Dr. Bernie Siegal, author of Love, Medicine and Miracles
Reading this book was like holding a big bunch of life in my hands. I laughed. I cried. I gave thanks to it for reminding me how lucky I am to wake up healthy each day.”
Time on Fire, a graceful and important book, reveals Evan Handler to be an accomplished, intelligent writer with a novelist’s eye for detail. That the story is immensely useful doesn’t mean that it isn’t at the same time an exceptional work of art. It is both.”
Tony Kushner, Pulitzer Prize-winning playwright of Angels in America
Time on Fire is at once deeply moving, candid, hilarious, and utterly human. I can’t think of a patient who has come through as he has and lived to tell the tale in so compelling a manner. He is a man of many gifts; writing is one of them.”
Richard Selzer, M.D., author of Raising the Dead, Confessions of a Knife, Mortal Lessons, and Down from Troy
Victory over cancer is not as rare as it once was. This victory is actually funny, irreverent, and beautifully recorded. Seldom is a grim subject such an enjoyable read.”
C. Everett Koop, M.D., former US Surgeon General.
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