David Calling

The David Pryce-Jones blog.

A Book that Shines


Sometimes you come across people who elevate the meaning of life by showing courage in the face of adversity. Simon Lewis is one such. A young and successful movie maker in Los Angeles, he and his recently married wife Marcy went out to celebrate the purchase of a new car. Marcy was the marketing director at the Performing Arts Center of Los Angeles County. On the road, an unregistered white Chevy van shot a stop sign and hit them sideways at high speed. Marcy was killed outright. Simon was so badly hurt that he was given no chance of surviving. There was nothing that could have saved them. This was really the hand of black fate.

Simon has just published Rise and Shine, his account of the fifteen years of medical care, operations, and personal and family heartbreak that finally culminated in his recovery. Self-pity would have been only normal, but the book is magnificently free of it. Instead, it is an account of the struggle to recover from a blow as severe as this. Here also are insights into the practice of medicine in the United States, and the many fine doctors, surgeons, and nurses who restored Simon. The costs were beyond the family’s means (and, of course, kept on rising), but the insurance company did the right thing in the end. All of it is heart-warming.

I have never actually met Simon, though we have spoken on the telephone and we exchanged e-mails when I gave him some advice on how he should write his book. He is the son of friends from London who long ago emigrated to California, and he is a cousin of Bernard Lewis, the renowned scholar of Islam. The publisher of Rise and Shine is the Santa Monica Press, not one of the nation’s great publishing houses and maybe unable to command the publicity this book deserves. I think every reader will have a lump in the throat in memory of Marcy, murdered by a stranger who did not stop and who escaped from the law, too. And every reader will also be moved to salute Simon for setting an extraordinary example of the human spirit.


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