Blogging with Parkinson's

A personal perspective on Young Onset Parkinson's

What’s Shakin’, by John Brissette

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Book Review: John Brissette, What’s Shakin’ (An Insider’s Look at the Humorous Side of Parkinson’s Disease)

I came across this book by accident while investigating children’s books about Parkinson’s (it came up in a ‘Customers Who Bought This Item Also Bought…’ link on Amazon). This isn’t a children’s book; it’s a collection of humorous real life anecdotes relating to the author’s Parkinson’s. Brissette was diagnosed at the age of 45, and this book was written after ten years of dealing with the condition, during which time he seems to have been determined not to let Parkinson’s rule his life.

The book is a self-published work from America, available via iUniverse. I bought it via Amazon marketplace (the book was printed and bound on demand – the service was prompt and very satisfactory).

The book itself reads like a collection of newspaper columns, although I cannot imagine any newspaper that would be likely to tackle the topic of living with Parkinson’s on a regular basis. However, the introduction is written by a columnist from a Michigan newspaper.

There is no overriding narrative, but that is not necessarily a criticism; it just isn’t that sort of book. An attempt has been made to categorise the anecdotes according to symptoms and side effects (of medication); I found this superfluous, but it may be useful to some readers. As you might expect, some of the tales are more amusing than others, but the thing that gives them their real charm and readability is the voice of the author, whose character really shines through. Now, to my mind there were far too many stories about golf – but it’s evident that the fellow rather enjoys playing golf (and having close encounters with golf carts), so I suppose that’s just par for the course*.

While this may not be as brilliant as the reviews on Amazon would have you believe, it is a warm, positive book. The author’s can-do attitude and his belief that laughter makes life worth living makes up for the odd place where the humour misses or where the situation described is just too plain scary (golf carts and foolish DIY decisions loom large).

*I’m sorry, that pun just popped into my head and I couldn’t resist it.

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