Picks and Pans Review: In Love with Daylight

updated 05/08/1995 AT 01:00 AM EDT

originally published 05/08/1995 AT 01:00 AM EDT

By Wilfrid Sheed

Having survived polio as a young man and alcoholism and drug addiction at mid-life, writer Wilfrid Sheed found himself at 60 facing cancer. He poured all his energy into fighting the disease—dutifully followed his doctor's advice—and is today decisively alive. This story of his battles, afflictions and recoveries reveals a man not easily cowed by adversity.

Sheed proves that the greatest enemy of life is capitulation, yet he also knows that loving it too much has a price as well. Sheed first developed a predilection for martinis, which he eventually compounded with the tranquilizer Ativan ("little Jeeves among pills, tactful and anonymous") and later with the sleeping tablet Halcion ("a lounge lizard among pills"). The cumulative wallop sent him into recovery, a road potholed with depression. One clinic resembled a boot camp, nearly convincing him that to "die in the arms of a pink elephant" would be better than drying out. But he did, managing to retain his wit and find peace, happiness and the ability to face his cancer with "something like equanimity."

In Love with Daylight, which Sheed believed would be published posthumously, offers a rollicking ride through the highs and lows of his life. He is a gifted stylist, drawing on the perfect word or metaphor to capture his exuberance and robust intelligence. Exhorting others to hope, Sheed concludes that there is nothing like "gambling for your life, as long as you keep winning." (Simon & Schuster, $23)

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