Becker, Suzanne (Rose) 1962(?)-
BECKER, Suzanne (Rose) 1962(?)-
PERSONAL: Born c. 1962. Education: Attended Brown University.
ADDRESSES: Home—299 South Bolton Road, Bolton, MA 01740.
CAREER: Cartoonist and writer. Taught second grade and coached volleyball in Spain; worked for several advertising agencies; The Widget Factory (greeting card company), founder and owner, 1987-93; White House fellow in speechwriting, marketing, and communications, 1993-94; teacher of creative writing, art, and drama at a charter elementary school, central Massachusetts; Radcliffe College, Harvard University, Cambridge, MA, Bunting fellow, 1999-2000. Organizer of Ride FAR bike-a-thon for AIDS.
AWARDS, HONORS: "A World of Difference" award, Anti-Defamation League, for community service work; named Woman of the Year, New England Women Business Owners, 1992; recipient of five International Greeting Card Awards.
UNDER NAME SUZY BECKER; SELF-ILLUSTRATED
All I Need to Know I Learned from My Cat, Workman (New York, NY), 1990.
The All Better Book, Workman (New York, NY), 1992.
My Dog's the World's Best Dog, Workman (New York, NY), 1995.
I Had Brain Surgery, What's Your Excuse? (illustrated memoir), Workman (New York, NY), 2004.
WORK IN PROGRESS: Fertile Mind, a book of Becker's decision-making process about whether or not to have a baby.
SIDELIGHTS: Suzanne "Suzy" Becker first made a name for herself as a humorist, writing and illustrating "socially responsible greeting cards," as she described them, for her own card company. She became famous with the publication of the blockbuster book All I Need to Know I Learned from My Cat, which remained on the New York Times best-seller list for thirty-four weeks despite being promoted by little but word of mouth. The slim book, heavily illustrated with cartoons of Becker's cat Binky, features such advice as "Get someone else to clean your bathroom," "Recognize the toy in everything," and "Flaunt your hair loss." Five years later Becker followed up with a similar book for dog owners, My Dog's the World's Best Dog. With wit and cartoons, Becker "captures the endearing qualities that lead all dog owners to proclaim their pet the best," explained a Buffalo News critic, even when said dog has just eaten all of one's credit cards—again—or is shedding all over one's non-dog-loving friends.
I Had Brain Surgery, What's Your Excuse? is in some ways a change of pace from Becker's earlier work, but she brings to this serious subject "her trademark wit, humor, and hilarious illustrations," Sage Stossel explained in a review for Radcliffe Quarterly. Three days after winning a Bunting fellowship to Radcliffe College, where she planned to work on a book about her decision whether or not to have a baby, Becker suffered a grand mal seizure. A friend convinced her to see a doctor, and after undergoing a number of tests a brain tumor was discovered. The surgery to remove the tumor went well, but Becker's memory and some of her ability to speak, read, and write was temporarily lost. I Had Brain Surgery, What's Your Excuse? is an "illustrated memoir" of this time in Becker's life. The book has more text than Becker's previous works, but still contains over three hundred of Becker's irreverent illustrations. In one, after Becker's doctors tell her that the tumor was "not in a good place," her cartoon alter ego shoots back, "Well, what is a good place—Cincinnati?!"; in another, Becker depicts the tumor as an anthropomorphic, ugly troll. Also included are actual entries Becker wrote in her notebook in the days immediately after the surgery that illustrate just how difficult forming sentences was for her at that time.
Becker's sense of humor also disappeared with her language ability, and she recounts in the book the moment when she knew it was back. It was two months after her surgery, and she had been sitting in an examining room waiting to see her doctor for a check-up for almost an hour. Wondering what was going on, Becker took a scrap piece of paper, folded it so it would stand up, wrote "Hello?" on it, and sat it in the middle of the hallway. When the first sign was ignored, she added a second one: "Anybody?" This time, to Becker's relief, people noticed—and laughed. As she wrote in I Had Brain Surgery, What's Your Excuse?, humor "is one of the best coping mechanisms out there. If you have the capacity to laugh at yourself and laugh at situations, it's so obvious you'll feel a lot better than crying or feeling terrified." By using humor to deal with such "intimidating subjects," Brandy Hilboldt Allport wrote in the Florida Times Union, Becker creates "a wonderfully readable, inspiring story." And, as Mary Nickum concluded in a Library Journal review, "Becker has turned one person's experience into a universal story of family, healing, and the return to creativity."
BIOGRAPHICAL AND CRITICAL SOURCES:
Becker, Suzy, I Had Brain Surgery, What's Your Excuse? (illustrated memoir), Workman (New York, NY), 2004.
Bay Windows, September 13, 2004, Beth Berlo, "An AIDS Ride of a Different Sort Takes Twenty-five on Five Hundred-Mile Journey."
Booklist, January 1, 2004, Carol Haggas, review of IHad Brain Surgery, What's Your Excuse?, p. 787.
Buffalo News, May 26, 1996, review of My Dog's theWorld's Best Dog, p. M19.
Colorado Springs Independent, March 18-24, 2004, Kathryn Eastburn, "Gray Matter: Humorous Memoir Takes on Serious Subject."
Entertainment Weekly, March 12, 2004, Nancy Miller, review of I Had Brain Surgery, What's Your Excuse?, p. 121.
Florida Times Union, March 7, 2004, Brandy Hilboldt Allport, review of I Had Brain Surgery, What's Your Excuse?, p. G4.
Imagine, summer, 2004, Kathryn DeLong, review of IHad Brain Surgery, What's Your Excuse?
Knight Ridder/Tribune News Service, January 10, 1996, Jennifer Weiner, review of My Dog's the World's Best Dog.
Library Journal, February 15, 2004, Mary Nickum, review of I Had Brain Surgery, What's Your Excuse?, p. 152.
Publishers Weekly, January 26, 2004, review of I HadBrain Surgery, What's Your Excuse?, p. 245.
Radcliffe Quarterly, spring, 2004, Sage Stossel, review of I Had Brain Surgery, What's Your Excuse?
BookPage.com,http://www.bookpage.com/ (September 13, 2004), interview with Becker.