I finished reading I Am, I Am, I Am by Maggie O’Farrell on a plane, and it made me tear up, which is not ideal, when one is on a plane among strangers. Perhaps planes make me a little extra weepy because I hardly ever cry over books, but this book really did move me, especially the last chapter, which I won’t get into here. The book’s subtitle is “Seventeen Brushes with Death,” and that’s exactly what it is: essays about seventeen times O’Farrell faced death, sometimes very immediately and dangerously, sometimes in a more distanced but still real and frightening way. O’Farrell has lived a pretty exciting life, with lots of travel and serious illness, and she has a certain recklessness that leads her into trouble sometimes. But still it seems to me like seventeen brushes with death is a particularly unfortunate record. O’Farrell writes about these experiences simply, in a straightforward manner without much direct philosophizing about life and death. But she still manages to be evocative and to inspire reflection even as she sticks to the story at hand. The experiences build on one another, later stories inspiring memories of earlier ones, hospital experiences contrasting with one another, childhood dangers helping us understand adult ones. The essays are not in chronological order, but they still add up to a full sense of the person that O’Farrell is. The book is labeled a memoir, and it feels like one, even as the individual essays can stand alone as well. The last chapter is the most wrenching, and it brings the book together beautifully. I just loved it.