New books — From the January 2013 issue

New Books

Download Pdf
MicroFiche

Ashok Rajamani would like to show you what happens when 100 billion neurons are suddenly overwhelmed by bursting blood vessels. In June 2000, at the age of twenty-five, Rajamani is passing the time in preparation for his brother’s wedding masturbating in his Manhattan hotel room while the rest of his family is out sightseeing. Unbeknownst to anyone, Rajamani suffers a congenital defect in the way arteries and veins in his brain are connected — an arteriovenous malformation — which leads to what he calls a “Hiroshima” hemorrhage the moment he climaxes. (“Those rumors about jerking off were right,” he remembers thinking before he passed out.) The AVM hemorrhage was, according to his doctor, bound to happen sometime, but in his good-humored and self-deprecating memoir, THE DAY MY BRAIN EXPLODED (Algonquin, $13.95), Rajamani persists in feeling culpable — for being blinded by God, for ruining his brother’s wedding, and for switching jobs without signing the COBRA form that would have extended his health insurance. The months, then years, following the hemorrhage are a chaos of change, misunderstanding, adaptation, and revelation. Bacterial meningitis, hallucinations, a ventriculostomy, a craniotomy, and a plummeting white-blood-cell count, as well as a savior complex, follow. (“I’m the body of love, I’m the body of love,” Rajamani babbles to his family for weeks on end.)

This article is only available to magazine subscribers. If you are a subscriber, please sign in. If you aren't, please subscribe below and get access to the entire Harper's archive for only $39.99/year.

= Subscribers only.
Sign in here.
Subscribe here.

Download Pdf
Share
is the author of many works of fiction and non-fiction. Her most recent novels are, for adults, Private Life, and, for young adults, Pie in the Sky. She won a Pulitzer Prize for Fiction in 1992 and was elected to the American Academy of Arts and Letters in 1997.

More from Jane Smiley:

New books From the November 2013 issue

New Books

New books From the September 2013 issue

New Books

New books From the July 2013 issue

New Books

Get access to 164 years of
Harper’s for only $39.99

United States Canada

THE CURRENT ISSUE

September 2014

Israel and Palestine

= Subscribers only.
Sign in here.
Subscribe here.

Washington Is Burning

= Subscribers only.
Sign in here.
Subscribe here.

On Free Will

= Subscribers only.
Sign in here.
Subscribe here.

They Were Awake

= Subscribers only.
Sign in here.
Subscribe here.

view Table Content