A Series of Catastrophes and Miracles: A True Story of Love, Science, and Cancer

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Product Details

National Geographic Society
Publish Date
6.2 X 9.0 X 1.1 inches | 0.01 pounds

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About the Author

MARY ELIZABETH WILLIAMS is a senior staff writer for award-winning Salon.com, and has appeared in the New York Times and numerous other national and regional publications. The author of Gimme Shelter: Ugly Houses, Cruddy Neighborhoods, Fast Talking Brokers, and Toxic Mortgages: My Three Years Searching for the American Dream, she lives in New York City with her family.


"This highly recommended account demonstrates the value of cutting-edge cancer research, but it is also beautifully crafted, and many readers will find it entertaining and--though the author might not like this term--inspiring."--Library Journal, starred review

"Exhilarating and entertaining...Williams delivers a complex tale about a complex disease."--Kirkus, starred review

"[Williams] eloquently and generously shares her story and her emotions in this remarkably illuminating account."--Booklist, starred review

"Devastating and wise, clear-eyed and funny, A Series of Catastrophes & Miracles is a cliché-busting tour guide through a country no one volunteers to visit (and how can you resist a cancer memoir that beings "Spoiler: I Lived.") This is a book for all the survivors--of cancer, of marriage, of mothers, and of children; of all the trials and journeys that make us who we are."
- Jennifer Weiner, #1 New York Times bestselling author of novels including Good In Bed, Best Friends Forever, and Who Do You Love

"This astonishing and inspiring book reveals not only the experimental treatment that healed Mary Elizabeth Williams but also the deep reserves of grit, love, and humor that help people face life's toughest tests. When you laugh and cry at the exact same time, you know you are reading an amazing survival story."
- Piper Kerman, author the #1 New York Times Bestseller Orange Is The New Black: My Year in a Women's Prison

"In writing a book not just about her own cancer but about the vexing history and science of cancer itself, Mary Elizabeth Williams has given us both a page-turning personal story and deeply informed look at a disease that fascinates even as it terrifies."
- Meghan Daum, author of The Unspeakable: And Other Subjects of Discussion

"I so admire Mary Elizabeth Williams's gaze and candor, but perhaps most of all her humor, which keeps us great company in this touching book."
- Jami Attenberg, author of Saint Mazie and The Middlesteins

"This isn't simply a book about cancer. It's about the powerful connections that emerge in crisis, the discovery of our own carrying capacity for grief and compassion, and the marvel of resilience and stubborn mystery that is the human body. Mary Elizabeth Williams offers an important lesson in cutting-edge medicine, but also how to endure the worst days of your life while remaining tough, tender, and funny as hell."
- Sarah Hepola, author of Blackout: Remembering the Things I Drank to Forget

"Mary Elizabeth Williams is an author you'll want to seek out and befriend once you've finished her book. She bares so much of her soul on the page--her joys, her fears, her suffering--we can't help but fall in love with her. This is as real as it gets."
- Susannah Callahan, author of Brain on Fire: My Month of Madness

"A Series of Catastrophes & Miracles shattered me. In the best possible way. One minute I'd be bawling, the next unable to stop laughing. Mary Elizabeth Williams is the funniest, raunchiest, smartest, heart-fillediest, science geekiest, and most genuine guide not only into the sh*t-out-of-luck cancer netherworld -- but also into the unvarnished reality of marriage, motherhood, and family. I'd call her a warrior, but she'd hate me for that. So I'll simply say this: f*ck cancer and buy this book."
- Deborah Copaken Kogen, bestelling author of The Red Book and Shutterbabe

"Mary Elizabeth Williams understands what it means to straddle life and death and the story she brings back is harrowing, hilarious, enlightening, and, above all, touched with the kind of grace the comes from having stared mortality right in the eye."
- Gayle Forman, author of the #1 New York Times bestselling novel If I Stay