A teenager may seem an unlikely candidate for a stroke, but that is exactly what happened to Alex Lemon his freshman year at Macalester College. Nicknamed Happy, Lemon was your typical student athlete: popular, hard- partying, carefree, and a proponent of locker-room machismo. When he had his first stroke in the spring of 1997, he assumed that he was simply still drunk after a night of heavy drinking. Casually popping Vicodin between spits of vomit and blood, he remained in denial of his deteriorating health throughout the day, even as his motor functions became increasingly impaired at baseball practice. Once diagnosed, his condition continued to worsen over the next two years. As a result, he coped with his crippling depression by continuing to abuse drugs and alcohol. Though this may sound like a downer, Happy: A Memoir (Scribner) is just as much about hope. After undergoing brain surgery to stop his strokes and internal bleeding, Lemon recounts how his artist mother pushed him to not only recover, but flourish. The author is also a poet, and his colorful prose often pinpoints the feeling of failing health in ways that are genuinely terrifying.
Thu., Jan. 7, 7:30 p.m., 2010