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Walter Harp
Into the Fun House
Walter Harp, author

In this true story, Walter Harp brings readers along for the ride on his hair-raising, heart-breaking, hope-making adventures with acute, life-threatening leukemia. He pulls no punches, writing with candor of the horrors of cancer as he humanizes it. This engrossing and poignant book is terrifying and tragic, uplifting and funny. Leukemia, like most serious illness, is fearsome—particularly when it repeatedly recurs and no treatment options remain. It hijacks and destroys lives without warning, reason, or compassion. Despite dire odds, many people endure, even when they’re told the end has come. Into the Fun House is the story of one such survivor—thus far (the leukemia keeps coming back)—and his family, of living a normal life of work, joy, and love while simultaneously enduring a surreal, parallel world of medicine and menace. 

Harp’s harrowing debut exhaustively chronicles the twists and turns of his struggle with acute lymphoblastic leukemia over the past decade. Diagnosed at age 38, Harp writes that he “felt nothing” at first, but soon his intense treatment began: chemotherapy, radiation, and stem-cell transplants, as well as an experimental treatment that aimed to weaponize his own T-cells to fight leukemic blasts. At one point, he spent 17 frightening days in a “padded metal cocoon” suspended in midair to keep him from drowning in the fluid filling his lungs. His story is studded with vascular surgeries that threaten both his cancer treatments and his limbs, while brief interludes written by his wife, as well as touching scenes with his children, provide a 360-degree view of the family’s experience with Harp’s illness and remission. Throughout, Harp emphasizes his good fortune to have had nearly continuous employment in the tech industry and quality health insurance. Harp’s writing is matter-of-fact, exquisitely detailed, and often moving, while eschewing sentimentality. Harp surpasses his goal of offering hope as a “friend who, like you, endures.” (BookLife)