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Corpus in Extremis : A memoir - Loretta Smith

Corpus in Extremis

A memoir

By: Loretta Smith

Paperback | 4 June 2024

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To an observer I am simply a sleeping patient in a hospital bed in recovery. One of rows and rows and rooms full of us. But what small miracles are occurring? How do we right ourselves, our physical bodies, and bring the rest—psyche, soul, ether—into alignment? Protection is required lest one surfaces with fault lines …

Loretta Smith is renowned as the bestselling author of A Spanner in the Works, the biography of Alice Anderson, the ‘garage girl’. Now in Corpus in Extremis, Loretta shares the details of her own fascinating and incredible life; a life in which she has had to negotiate the pain, physical restrictions, and medical interventions of Osteogenesis Imperfecta, also known as brittle bone disease.

She shows that despite being a patient for a lifetime, she has survived, and even thrived with an imaginative brain more agile than her body. You will be charmed, challenged, and will laugh out loud at her wit and ingenuity and as she embarks on travel, engages in work, grapples with family and relationships and takes up creative endeavours, all while enduring continuous medical treatments.

Loretta explores what it is to reside in a body pushed to the extreme; what it is to be human, to be fractured, to be whole and to heal. She lucidly argues that nobody escapes being disabled, disenfranchised or othered in one way or another.

As long as we stand in light there is always shadow, always something to challenge truth, justice, knowledge, physical and mental wellbeing. As humans we are at once strong, yet vulnerable, immutable and forever changing.

About the Author

Loretta Smith is a writer of true stories, a committed feminist and environmental activist. She holds a Bachelor of Education in Creative Arts and a Graduate Certificate in Teaching English as a Foreign or Other Language (TESOL) as well as being an experienced Life Coach. Loretta's career has spanned teaching, community theatre, case management, and various roles in the disability, mental health and aged care sectors. Aside from trying to save the planet from human destruction and getting through the pile of books on her bedside table, Loretta likes to muck around on her piano making up songs most people will never hear. This is the result of playing in a band once and performing in a few A Cappella groups when she wrote and arranged comparatively short ditties. Nowadays she co-hosts the weekly radio program Take Me To Your Reader on JOY94.9 with her writing group The Cartridge Family where they interview authors of all stripes and discuss all things writerly. Loretta's bestselling biography A Spanner in the Works: The extraordinary story of Alice Anderson and Australia's first 'all-girl' garage (Hachette, 2019) inspired the play Garage Girls, which performed at La Mama Theatre in 2023 to a sell-out audience. The book has also been optioned for a TV series. Loretta's memoir, Corpus in Extremis, is based on (but not limited to) living with the rare genetic bone condition Osteogenesis Imperfecta and explores her incredible backstory to researching and writing A Spanner in the Works.
Industry Reviews

This exquisitely written memoir tells compelling tales about broken bones and heartbreak, as well as about one extraordinary woman's strong-willed and creative mind and quiet courage. While Smith navigates difficulties unimaginable to most of us in her everyday, she's woven out of their painful threads such a vital story of a passionately lived life that I found it difficult to part with the book when it came to an end.

-Lee Kofman, author of The Writer Laid Bare and Imperfect


This exquisitely written memoir tells compelling tales about broken bones and heartbreak, as well as about one extraordinary woman's strong-willed and creative mind and quiet courage. While Smith navigates difficulties unimaginable to most of us in her everyday, she's woven out of their painful threads such a vital story of a passionately lived life that I found it difficult to part with the book when it came to an end.

-Lee Kofman, author of The Writer Laid Bare and Imperfect


This exquisitely written memoir tells compelling tales about broken bones and heartbreak, as well as about one extraordinary woman's strong-willed and creative mind and quiet courage. While Smith navigates difficulties unimaginable to most of us in her everyday, she's woven out of their painful threads such a vital story of a passionately lived life that I found it difficult to part with the book when it came to an end.

-Lee Kofman, author of The Writer Laid Bare and Imperfect

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