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Book and Media Reviews
June 7, 2006


Author Affiliations

Book and Media Reviews Section Editor: Harriet S. Meyer, MD, Contributing Editor, JAMA.

JAMA. 2006;295(21):2539-2543. doi:10.1001/jama.295.21.2541

This collection of essays tells the story of the author's reassembled life in the wake of contracting a virus, presumably on an airplane flight. It was possibly a “herpes virus carried on the plane's recirculated air,” and the infection led to a period of neurologic deterioration. “I was no longer able to work or think or remember,” Skloot writes. Brain scans revealed that a “viral assault had eaten away parts of my brain, the resulting damage showing up as scattered punctate lesions in the cerebral cortex whose effects left me totally disabled.” In A World of Light, the author tries to describe what it is like for him to live with a brain-damaged mind. The memoir recalls the literary medical writings on neurologic themes of Oliver Sacks, who has included Skloot's work in one of his edited collections. (By “World of Light” the author means the process of reconstructing his life after his memory and other cognitive losses.)