JoeyPinkney.com Book Review
“You Can’t Keep a Good Man Down”
3 out of 5 stars
“You Can’t Keep a Good Man Down”, by Environmental Writer Sally Hunter, follows the life of Australian Geoff Sykes from his rural upbringing through his active adult life and ultimately to the after-effects of Parkinson’s Disease and the use of Deep Brain Stimulation to stem the effects this disease and the medications.
The book weaves back and forth between the explanation of everything Parkinson’s and Geoff’s everyday life, as told by Geoff, his second-wife Jenny and his close childhood friend Danny. The book also explains “Deep Brain Stimulation” – an experimental procedure used to help people suffering with Parkinson’s disease. On an interesting note to non-Aussies, the portions of this book describing Geoff’s personal experience is written in an Australian vernacular, as explained in the introduction.
It is through these stories that you get a better understanding of what may have caused the onset of Parkinson’s in Geoff. I was not aware of the ins and outs of this disease and the harsh side-effects associated with the medicines in various dosages. Reading “You Can’t Keep a Good Man Down” really opened my eyes life in Australia and life with Parkinson’s Disease.
It is immediately obvious that Sally Hunter put in a great deal of research into the factual representations given about the causes and nuances of Parkinson’s disease, especially in relation to Geoff Sykes. You get to know a man, up close and personal, in relation to a disease that totally snatched his active lifestyle away from him. Simply put, Geoff is hard-working and stubborn, and that’s not a bad thing considering the toll Parkinson’s takes on a person’s mobility. You also get to know more about a disease that has some strong links to a set of causes that can be controlled.
“You Can’t Keep a Good Man Down” also shows first-hand experience with the positive effects of the Deep Brain Stimulation procedure on Geoff as he struggles to regain his physical and mental acuity. Sally Hunter has done a great job explaining the ambiguity of the effects of Deep Brain Stimulation on different patients and the organizations in Australia that are geared towards helping people with Parkinson’s. It is a situation where you just do not know if the surgery is going to be beneficial until you go through the procedure. With Geoff, Deep Brain Stimulation helped more than it hurt. “You Can’t Keep a Good Man Down” attempts to give a thorough look into the procedure in general and a look at a specific person who is affected by it.
What did I not like about the book? The title was incorporated into book’s narrative quite a few times throughout, and it came a bit annoying. I understood the idea and intent, but I felt it wasn’t needed. I did not like the blandness of the book’s cover. Book cover illustrators are relatively inexpensive, and do-it-yourself methods can be used to render better results. In an industry that “judges a book by its cover”, “You Can’t Keep a Good Man Down” decreases its chances of being purchased by people who may come across this book on a website or in a physical store that sells books.
Furthermore, the second blurb in the back doesn’t entice one to look further into this book because takes away from the power of this particular book’s ability to relay the unique experience inside its cover. Instead, it points out that “everybody’s journey is different”. Instead of pointing out that everyone’s journey is different, which is obvious, that statement could have been left off.
Another drawback was the citing of Wikipedia as a valid source of information. Sure, Wikipedia is like Google for most people who need information quickly. In terms of the scientific nature of this book’s subject matter, Wikipedia might not be the best source to mention in a reference book of this nature. This book also has a reference section in the back with links to related information and citations are noted throughout the book.
Quite a few times during the relaying of the personal experiences of Geoff and his close friends and family, the book gets bogged down in the details. Similar to listening to a friend drone on and on about the minutiae of a story, there were a few times I was bored and ready to move on to the next scenario or situation.
There were a few times where things were unnecessarily repeated, which became slightly frustrating. Other times, repeated bits of information was not consistent. For example, the first time it was mentioned that Geoff Sykes got a call to go to the hospital for his Deep Brain Stimulation procedure, he had five days to pack and be there at the facility. The second time that same phone call was mentioned, he had six days.
The use of a content editor would have vastly the accessibility of this book to the average reader. This book would be a much better read if it was consistent and moved faster. Although a fairly short read as it is, conciseness would make it better.
If you’re not interested in Parkinson’s Disease nor Australia, this might not be the book for you unless you are a curious, voracious reader because this is specialized reading. If you have experience with Parkinson’s or a loved one with this disease, “You Can’t Keep a Good Man Down” is a promising read. This book gives you a thorough, yet condensed, overview of the potential causes, the known effects and a viable option for curtailing the devastation of Parkinson’s.