Bookmarks Issue: 

A True Story

A-Cancer VixenThe driving question behind Marisa Marchetto’s graphic memoir is, "What happens when a shoe-crazy, lipstick-obsessed, wine swilling, pasta-slurping, fashion-fanatic, single-forever, about-to-get-married big-city girl cartoonist … with a fabulous life finds … a lump in her breast?" Marchetto, 43 and a successful cartoonist, was living the life—publishing her work in the New Yorker and Glamour, looking forward to her marriage to hip restaurateur Silvano Marchetto, and enjoying Manhattan’s fabulous fashions and fabulous parties with her fabulous friends. Then, in 2004, diagnosed with breast cancer and without health insurance, Marchetto had a decision to make: keep up her "fabulous" life, or start fighting. She chose both.
Knopf. 224 pages. $22. ISBN: 0307263576

Cleveland Plain Dealer 4 of 5 Stars
"Cancer Vixen is a serious and uniquely poignant memoir. … [Marchetto’s book] is certain to refine the language of breast cancer in its own, quirky way." John Vaughn

Hartford Courant 4 of 5 Stars
"What happens is a vivid account—made only more powerful with her breathtakingly honest drawings—about getting the worst news of your life at the best time of your life. … In Cancer Vixen, Marchetto … has created an absorbing and inspiring tale of a woman who knows how to do things—even fight cancer—in style." Helen Ubinas

Newsday 4 of 5 Stars
"Cancer Vixen: A True Story is a graphic memoir documenting Marchetto’s 11-month-long treatment and subsequent triumph over the disease. … This is less a book about cancer with a capital C than a highly entertaining one about what day-to-day life is like when cancer throws a wrench in the works." Stephanie Zacharek

Seattle Times 4 of 5 Stars
"What makes it work is the funny, disarming superheroine of the title—Marchetto herself, determined to be a Vixen and not a Victim, and living an ordinary life … and struggling with ordinary problems as she comes to grips with a potentially life-threatening disease. … Oddly enough, considering the subject matter, Cancer Vixen is tremendous fun, bubbly and sweet and optimistic." Mary Brennan

NY Times Book Review 3.5 of 5 Stars
"Marchetto’s sunny drawings comfort and amuse while providing a beneficial education on cancer’s dark details." Ariel Levy

Critical Summary

Marisa Marchetto, whose comics collection Just Who the Hell Is She, Anyway? jumped off the page from the artist’s Mirabella strip circa 1994, shows her range—and an indomitable sense of humor—with a graphic memoir depicting her battle with illness in the prime of life. Endearing and informative, as well as fun and, at times, riotously funny, Cancer Vixen explores the emotions and explodes the stereotypes of women with breast cancer. Marchetto, with her Sex in the City attitude toward life, inspires admiration, and her singular effort undoubtedly belongs to what critic Ariel Levy deems the new genre of "Sick-Chick Lit."