Review: "Noted critic, novelist and essayist Sheed recounts his recovery from three major illnesses in this highly personal, torturous, oddly exhilarating chronicle. The first illness, polio, struck in 1945 when he was 14. With unbridled optimism, Sheed struggled for years with a disease that ``seemed much more like a vacation from the pains of growing up than an addition to them.'' The book's centerpiece, his plunge into depression triggered by addiction to sleeping pills and alcohol in his mid-50s, unfolds a nightmare of panic attacks, manic highs, proliferating phobias and suicidal dementia. Sheed found scant relief through a stay in a sanatorium, antidepressants or lithium, on all of which he heaps scorn. His recovery seemed to follow its own logic and inner mechanisms of healing. Diagnosed with cancer in 1991, he underwent operations of the tongue and neck, as well as radiation treatments, a two-year ordeal he describes with wit and gallantry." -- Reed Elsevier Inc.