The story of the brothers Benz may in fact be “the only case like it in history.” Diagnosed back in the 1970’s with aplastic anemia — a life-threatening condition in which the bone marrow doesn’t produce the platelets needed for blood to clot normally — Charley Benz became bound to the person who was identified as the sole compatible donor: his younger brother Yarrott.
Thus began a tale of experimental procedures, complex emotions, soul-searching and self-sacrifice that has only recently been revealed to the world at large, in the acclaimed memoir The Bone Bridge: A Brother’s Story.
On Tuesday evening, the Visiting Writers series at Brookdale Community College resumes for the spring 2016 session, and the public is invited to hear Yarrott Benz discuss the book that has been called “the harrowing account of teenage brothers, as different as night and day, trapped together in a dramatic medical dilemma — a modern miracle and a modern nightmare.”
Presented at 7 p.m. in the Lincroft college’s Warner Student Life Center building, the free event finds the Tennessee-born author — an artist and essayist who has previously written on topics including architecture’s seminal role in art history and the psychology of visual trends — opening up about an extraordinary story that had once been a private family affair.
It’s an account that details the transfusion procedure by which Charley was kept hanging on to life (a grueling, twice-weekly process that continued for more than seven years) and goes behind the scenes to speak frankly of how “the two brothers navigate through their enmeshed lives with all that they feel for each other: hatred and love, rejection and acceptance, disdain and respect.” Yarrott examines how he dealt with being the only person who could keep Charley alive, and how he coped when his brother died.
Above all, it’s a story that asks the reader a difficult question: what would you do? And how would any of us shoulder such a responsibility, in a society where careerism, ego and personal fulfillment are all-encompassing themes?
As always, the Visiting Writers event is presented by the Creative Writing Club and Student Activities at BCC. Parking is in lots 6 or 7, and complimentary refreshments are available (donations to the Creative Writing program are welcomed). Call (732) 224-2650 or email firstname.lastname@example.org for more information.