No Laughing Matter (book)
|Author||Joseph Heller & Speed Vogel|
|Publisher||G. P. Putnam's Sons|
|Media type||Print (Hardback)|
On Sunday, December 13, 1981, Heller was diagnosed with Guillain-Barré syndrome, a debilitating syndrome that was to leave him temporarily paralyzed. He was admitted to the Intensive Care Unit of Mount Sinai Medical Hospital the same day (Heller 1986, pp. 23–34), and remained there, bedridden, until his condition had improved enough to permit his transfer to the Rusk Institute of Rehabilitation Medicine, which occurred on January 26, 1982 (Heller 1986, pp. 170–174).
The book reveals the assistance and companionship Heller received during this period from a laundry list of his prominent friends—Mel Brooks, Mario Puzo, Dustin Hoffman and George Mandel among them.
Speed Vogel writes of helping Heller, his friend for twenty years, through his rehabilitation. The pair write alternating chapters, which amusingly chronicle Vogel's rise through society as he stands in for Heller, even traveling to the Cannes Film Festival, while at the same time Heller is becoming more helpless.
Although Heller's disease is debilitating, the book is full of humor and never self-pitying. Heller's only lament is letting an insurance policy lapse, resulting in his out-of-pocket expenses of $120,000 in medical costs.
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