Dying: A Memoir

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A deeply affecting meditation on dying and a wise tribute to life

At the age of sixty, Cory Taylor is dying of melanoma-related brain cancer. Her illness is no longer treatable: she now weighs less than her neighbor’s retriever. As her body weakens, she describes the experience―the vulnerability and strength, the courage and humility, the anger and acceptance―of knowing she will soon die.

Written in the space of a few weeks, in a tremendous creative surge, this powerful and beautiful memoir is a clear-eyed account of what dying teaches: Taylor describes the tangle of her feelings, remembers the lives and deaths of her parents, and examines why she would like to be able to choose the circumstances of her death.

Taylor’s last words offer a vocabulary for readers to speak about the most difficult thing any of us will face. And while Dying: A Memoir is a deeply affecting meditation on death, it is also a funny and wise tribute to life.


  • Dying is bracing and beautiful, possessed of an extraordinary intellectual and moral rigor. Every medical student should read it. Every human should read it.”

    The New York Times

  • “Honest, powerful, and moving . . . A deeply personal conversation about the alchemy of death, this brave memoir reveals the intimacy of the act, where ‘we’re like the last survivors on a sinking ship, huddled together for warmth.’”


  • “This deep meditation is beautifully written and destined to be an important piece of the conversation surrounding death.”

    Publishers Weekly, Starred Review

  • “An eloquent plea for a more humane approach to death and a moving meditation on the life that leads to that end. . . . There is an ever expanding body of literature on coming to terms with mortality, and this entry ranks with the best.”

    Kirkus, Starred Review

  • Dying is a powerful, passionate, unflinching memoir about facing death and the choices and difficulty and beauty that entails. It should be required reading for all of us.”

    —Ann Hood

  • ”This small, powerful book offers a clean engagement with life’s conclusion: with clarity and courage, the author finds words to escort us towards silence.”

    —Hilary Mantel

  • “This is a powerful, poignant and lucid last testament, at once an eloquent plea for autonomy in death, and an evocation of the joys, sorrows, and sheer unpredictability and precariousness of life. It’s a fine contribution to our much-needed dialogue with death.”

    —Margaret Drabble

  • “Cory Taylor’s book is both a precise and moving memoir about the randomness of family, and an admirable intellectual response to the randomness of life and death. We should all hope for as vivid a looking-back, and as cogent a looking-forward, when we reach the end ourselves.”

    —Julian Barnes