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I Am, I Am, I Am: Seventeen Brushes with Death (Hardcover)

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Staff Reviews

Told through a series of near-death experiences, I Am, I Am, I Am breaks from a chronological narrative to mimic memory itself, each chapter rising to the surface before becoming sensory and deeply visceral. While the subtitle suggests a preoccupation with death, O'Farrell's title & epigraph (a line from The Bell Jar) reveal the memoir's true heart: an unconventional and revelatory delve into what it means to be alive. As O'Farrell revisits each of the times when her life nearly ended but didn't, I was left considering all of the other everyday moments in between, and how thinking of life in such impermanent terms changes their hue. Yet, written as guidance to a daughter living with a life-threatening illness, O'Farrell's memoir isn't only asking us to appreciate life, but also to see that life will hurt, for all of us. Nevertheless, being truly alive means taking big, gulping breaths of it anyway. 

— From Kelsey's Picks


An extraordinary memoir--told entirely in near-death experiences--from one of Britain's best-selling novelists, for fans of Wild, When Breath Becomes Air, and The Year of Magical Thinking.

We are never closer to life than when we brush up against the possibility of death.

I Am, I Am, I Am is Maggie O'Farrell's astonishing memoir of the near-death experiences that have punctuated and defined her life. The childhood illness that left her bedridden for a year, which she was not expected to survive. A teenage yearning to escape that nearly ended in disaster. An encounter with a disturbed man on a remote path. And, most terrifying of all, an ongoing, daily struggle to protect her daughter--for whom this book was written--from a condition that leaves her unimaginably vulnerable to life's myriad dangers.
Seventeen discrete encounters with Maggie at different ages, in different locations, reveal a whole life in a series of tense, visceral snapshots. In taut prose that vibrates with electricity and restrained emotion, O'Farrell captures the perils running just beneath the surface, and illuminates the preciousness, beauty, and mysteries of life itself.

About the Author

Born in Northern Ireland in 1972, MAGGIE O'FARRELL grew up in Wales and Scotland and now lives in London. She has worked as a waitress, chambermaid, bike messenger, teacher, arts administrator, and journalist in Hong Kong and London, and as the deputy literary editor of The Independent on Sunday. Her debut novel, After You'd Gone (2000) won a Betty Trask Award and was followed by My Lover's Lover (2002); The Distance Between Us (2004), winner of a Somerset Maugham Award; The Vanishing Act of Esme Lennox (2006); The Hand That First Held Mine (2010), winner of the Costa Novel Award; Instructions for a Heatwave (2013), and, most recently, This Must Be the Place (2016).
Product Details
ISBN: 9780525520221
ISBN-10: 0525520228
Publisher: Knopf Publishing Group
Publication Date: February 6th, 2018
Pages: 304
Language: English