In his three previous memoirs, Floyd Skloot grappled with the brain-ravaging virus that struck him at forty-one. He was, as the San Francisco Chronicle noted, "shaping the experience of crippling illness into dazzling literature." How such alchemy is performed--where, in fact, the magic comes from--is the subject of Skloot's new book, a memoir of the making of a writer. Sifting through memories and observations to discover how circumstance and nature conspired to make him the writer he is, Skloot enacts in this book the very process he describes, the shaping of a writer's life. Among the influences of family and close friendship, experience and popular culture, he uncovers a unique and telling perspective on the forging of a writer's individual sensibility. At the same time, his book explores fundamental questions about how life shapes the creative spirit--and how, in turn the writer makes sense of it all and gives life a new and meaningful shape in the form of literature.