The era of the cancer memoir began towards the end of the 20th century. Susan Sontag’s incandescent Illness as Metaphor, published in 1978, broke the taboo on discussing the disease, using her own diagnosis as fuel for a furious treatise on how we think about illness and the body. And in 1997, the British journalists Ruth Picardie and John Diamond documented their respective struggles with breast and throat cancer in national newspaper columns. Like these predecessors and descendants, Mandel’s posts chart an intelligent individual’s battle with pain, semi-comprehensible encounters with medics and a rapidly diminishing life expectancy. What makes @heaven unique, though, is that it also documents the responses of a community in some way generated by his illness.

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