The legacy of Jay Lake, the novelist who blogged his own death
This sort of honesty, indifferent to propriety or the generally accepted personal boundaries, has been inherent in Lake’s blogging since 2008, when he stumbled into the emergency room panicked by a sudden, alarming loss of blood. Earlier that day he had participated in a book reading to commemorate the publication of his novel, Mainspring; it was cut short when he went to the bathroom and looked down to see that the toilet water was a scarlet red.
When the doctors finally examined him, they discovered two things: He had lost enough blood to warrant a transfusion, and the situation had been triggered by an ulcerated tumor. At the time, Lake was thankful. His doctors told him they had located it early enough in its growth to conclude that remission was not only possible but likely (the tumor was Stage 1 with no lymph node involvement or metastasis).
But, as anyone who regularly reads the writer’s blog soon discovered, the cancer’s persistence proved invincible to both surgical and chemotherapeutic procedures, and it wasn’t long before Lake’s CT scans yielded dark spots that proliferated through his liver, lungs, and other vital organs. Early last year, his doctors, after observing the inexorable encroachment of his tumors, informed Lake that the cancer was now classified as terminal.
The then-48-year-old writer began to prepare himself—and his readers—for death.