Marchetto, Marisa Acocella (Marisa Acocella)
Marchetto, Marisa Acocella (Marisa Acocella)
Married Silvano Marchetto (a restaurateur).
Home—New York, NY.
Illustrator and writer.
(As Marisa Acocella) Just Who the Hell Is SHE, Anyway? (graphic novel; self-illustrated), Harmony Books (New York, NY) 1994.
Cancer Vixen: A True Story (graphic memoir; self-illustrated), Knopf (New York, NY) 2006.
Cartoons have appeared in New Yorker, Glamour, Mirabella, Modern Bride, New York Times, and other publications.
Working Title Films plans to produce a film version of Cancer Vixen, to star Cate Blanchett.
Marisa Acocella Marchetto's illustrated memoir Cancer Vixen: A True Story chronicles the turns her life took after she was diagnosed with breast cancer in 2004. At the time, this sharp-witted, stylish Manhattanite, in her early forties, was having great success in her career as a cartoonist, selling her work to the New Yorker, Glamour, and other major magazines, and in her personal life, as she was about to marry restaurant owner Silvano Marchetto. She underwent a lumpectomy and eleven months of chemotherapy and other treatments, went ahead with her wedding, kept on with her cartooning work, and resolved to keep her sense of humor.
That humor informs Cancer Vixen, which takes its title from the nickname Marchetto gave herself. "My message would be: Don't be a victim. Be a vixen," Marchetto told Rob Sharp in an interview for the London Observer. She maintained her love of fashion, apparent in her descriptions of designer shoes she wore to chemotherapy sessions and her comparison of hospital gowns to high-style clothes. She also discusses the well-meaning if sometimes inappropriate advice she received from friends and family—one friend recommended mushroom supplements—and her insecurity about her marriage, as one woman attempted to start an affair with Marchetto's husband by offering him "a healthy relationship" (he rebuffed the advance). Their marriage endured and prospered, the author reports, and she ended up cancer-free—and, she says, a better person for what she went through.
Her tale is inspirational but unsentimental, according to some reviewers. "There is an obligatory ‘what I learned from being sick’ section at the end, but it's not overly saccharine, and given the author's mocking self-awareness in other parts of the book, it feels entirely genuine," related Stella Duffy in the Guardian. To Houston Chronicle contributor Helen Ubinas, the work was "a courageous, original take on Marchetto's frightening, yet oftentimes hilarious … road to recovery." Ubinas also praised Marchetto's humorous illustrations, such as "drawings of cancer cells as deranged happy faces giving her and her docs the finger." A Kirkus Reviews critic noted that Marchetto "has taken the tone of Sex and the City into the cancer ward, with a happy ending that makes her memoir seem all the more life-affirming," while Bob Minzesheimer, writing in USA Today, called the book "satirically poignant." A Publishers Weekly commentator summed it up as "a universal story that's hard to put down."
BIOGRAPHICAL AND CRITICAL SOURCES:
Marchetto, Marisa Acocella, Cancer Vixen: A True Story, Knopf (New York, NY), 2006.
Entertainment Weekly, September 29, 2006, "Lives Less Ordinary," p. 88.
Guardian (London, England), January 13, 2007, Stella Duffy, "Drawn to a Happy Conclusion."
Globe and Mail (Toronto, Ontario, Canada), October 7, 2006, Sarah Harvey, "A Cartoon, but No Joke," p. D14; October 21, 2006, Nathalie Atkinson, "Nothing Novel about These Works," p. D18; December 9, 2006, Kevin Patterson, "Something Malign This Way Comes," p. D43.
Houston Chronicle, December 31, 2006, Helen Ubinas, "Kicking Cancer to the Curb; Cartoonist Fights Disease with Humor, Courage and High Heels," Zest section, p. 17.
Kirkus Reviews, July 15, 2006, review of Cancer Vixen, p. 713.
Newsweek, September 25, 2006, Nicki Gostin, "Graphic Stories—With Heart," p. 11.
New York Times, April 14, 2005, Lola Ogunnaike, "A Vixen Cartooning in the Face of Cancer."
New York Times Book Review, October 22, 2006, Ariel Levy, "Sick in the City," p 30.
Observer (London, England), October 15, 2006, Rob Sharp, "A Glamour Girl's Guide to ‘Kicking Cancer's Butt.’"
O, The Oprah Magazine, October, 2006, Cathleen Medwick, "Chemo, Schmemo," p. 242.
People, October 9, 2006, review of Cancer Vixen, p. 53.
Publishers Weekly, July 24, 2006, review of Cancer Vixen, p. 43.
Time, October 9, 2006, Andrew D. Arnold, "5 Gripping Graphic Novels for Grownups," p. 70.
USA Today, September 7, 2006, Bob Minzesheimer, review of Cancer Vixen, p. 5D.