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In March of 1994, Simon Lewis was a Hollywood man on the rise. He had started in the film industry as a lawyer and worked his way up to become a big-budget studio producer. He’d helped shepherd one of the most successful comedies in film history. He’d married the love of his life. And then one night, in a few seconds, everything changed.
In Blindsight, author Chris Colin unspools the remarkable true story of a horrific accident and the life that followed it. A killer at large. Unlikely twists of fate. Miraculous medical oddities. Otherworldly perceptions. Lewis’s is a tale of one man’s love and loss, and of the strange turns awaiting a life remade.
Man is en route to a restaurant with his new bride. Man’s car gets T-boned by a hit and run driver. Wife dies but man survives, though he suffers extensive brain trauma. Man, after ten-plus years of grueling therapy and multiple surgeries, miraculously regains the same IQ he had prior to the accident. This reads like a storyboard treatment for a film that Simon Lewis might have produced. The story is Lewis’s own, however. Prior to the wreck that left him without a third of the right hemisphere of his brain, Lewis was a respected member of the Hollywood establishment, even though his roster mainly included B-movies (C.H.U.D. 2 anyone?), and a film that was originally slated to go straight to video, but Lewis wisely championed, Look Who’s Talking. Handily beating Field of Dreams and Born of the 4th of July at the box office, it made then has-been John Travolta a household name again, ensuring that his Scientology dues would be paid on time. Despite its cinematic qualities, which author Chris Colin dutifully points out in this captivating Kindle Single about Lewis’s recovery, this really is an anti-Hollywood story. Life is messy; it doesn’t always have an ending you can tie up with a neat little bow. And, as much as you’ll marvel at the enduring (and endearing) spirit of Simon Lewis, Blindsight will have you equally marveling at the extraordinariness–the almost “science fiction-like” capabilities–of the human brain. –Erin Kodicek, Amazon.Com Review
“The extraordinary perceptions and insights experienced by Simon Lewis after his life-altering brain injury are fascinating to read about. This piece should remind those of us who plod through our days with healthy brains that a similar beauty and grace exists inside us waiting to be uncovered.” —Ethan Watters, author of Crazy Like Us: The Globalization of the American Psyche
“Only Chris Colin could make me care about the man responsible for the cheese-horror movie C.H.U.D II. Mixing a potent blend of reportage with vivid storytelling, Blindsight tells the tragic story of movie producer Simon Lewis, and his almost twenty year struggle with a strange neurological condition. Lewis’s story, we know in our heart of hearts, could befall any of us.” —Novella Carpenter, best-selling author of Farm City
Blindsight is a rarity, a most often trauma-induced medical condition in which a person without sight can “see” through the blindness without consciously registering images. A person with blindsight will navigate around a garbage can without ever visualizing the obstacle. Blindsight is seeing without seeing, the brain doing a workaround.
Simon Lewis developed blindsight after being crushed body and soul in a horrible 1994 car wreck that killed his wife of five months, left Lewis in a four-month coma and became the start of a decade-long crawl back toward daylight.
Storyboard, Panel 1 of 5: Lewis is a Hollywood kid who loves the movies and starts by shooting a high schooler, backyard version of “Macbeth.” Some time later a string of progressively more main-stream B-movies follow. At the top of that heap is “C.H.U.D.2.” Then the young producer latches onto a hokey script and hustles to sign 70s has-been John Travolta. The movie is about a tough talking baby who telegraphs his thoughts to the audience and bam, “Look Who’s Talking” is the smash hit of 1989, beating every other hit of the year including “When Harry Met Sally” and “The Little Mermaid.” At about the same time, he meets Marcy and records another triumph when she, “talkative and vivacious,” agrees to marry him, “pale and bookish.”
Storyboard, Panel 2: March 2, 1994. If he would have paused outside the fancy Italian restaurant they both loved to tie his shoelace before getting into their brand new Infiniti he would have driven through the intersection of Beverly Boulevard and McCadden Place a couple seconds later and missed being T-boned by that white 1978 van running the stop sign full-throttle at 75 miles per hour. In a home nearby a couple eating dinner thought a bomb had gone off. They ducked under their dinner table.
Storyboard, Panel 3: The paramedics first on the scene report no survivors in the Infiniti. Witnesses say they saw a young man climb out of the van and sprint up McCadden, never to be identified. It takes over an hour to splay the Infinity open. Rescuers are shocked to discover Lewis has a pulse. Every second that passes, more blood leaks internally filling every available space under his skin. More brain cells die. By the time Lewis is admitted to Cedars-Sinai his body has swollen to twice its normal size. Four months later, one day in April, Lewis’ eyes open.
Storyboard, Panel 4: The road back is a long one. More than ten years. Lewis had lost everything. Then with struggle, gained much back. His legs are fitted with a NESS L300, a neuroprosthesis that sends impulses to nerves to help him walk. He’s now a middle-aged man in his 50s. “A little advice,” someone says to Lewis, “Find love again.” In 2010 he writes a book “Rise and Shine” an extremely detailed chronicle of his ordeal. Life moves on.
Storyboard, Panel 5: Lewis’ story doesn’t have an ending, happy or sad, that packs everything up in a little square box with a cover. The ending is ambiguous and undetermined, the way life works. Lewis makes contact again with the film community. He works on a script from long ago and like the rest of us Lewis continues on, “living the non-movie version of his own life.”
The Pitch: The summary doesn’t begin to size up the story which is almost science fiction in its treatment of how the brain functions in reaction to terrible trauma and works to heal itself. The story is inspirational. How do you go about remaking a life? There’s an otherworldly quality to Lewis’s rehabilitation that blurs reality and perception and reshapes what we mean by consciousness and cognition. To me, “Blindsight” is a hero’s story of endurance and resilience. – Rett01, Amazon.Com Customer Review
Book review: ‘Blindsight’
The Chicago Tribune Book Review – September 13, 2011 (Excerpt)
Film producer Simon Lewis was driving down Beverly Boulevard with his wife in 1994 when their car was broadsided by a van traveling at about 75 mph.
Lewis, then 35, had seen his biggest success with “Look Who’s Talking,” a comedy about a chatty baby starring John Travolta, Kirstie Alley and the voice of Bruce Willis. But after this accident his life would never be the same.
An hour after emergency workers reached the scene of the accident — the car had spun through the air and smashed into a tree — they found the bloodied Lewis and were surprised to discover he had a pulse. His wife was dead.
Pulled from the wreckage, he lay in a deep coma and had severe injuries: All but two ribs were broken, as were his pelvis, collarbone, both arms and jaw. His skull had been crushed. He’d undergone an emergency craniotomy to relieve the devastating swelling on his brain.
When, against the odds, he awoke, he and his parents came to realize how much damage had been done. He had lost a third of the right hemisphere of his brain, and his cognitive skills were impaired. It took a decade and a half of intensive therapy to recover, to the point that now he’s ready to make movies again — an incredible story in itself. [Read the full article...]
THE BLEEDING HILLS
A Novel by Wilfried F. Voss
I have fought a good fight,
I have finished my course,
I have kept the faith.
- 2 Timothy iv. 7
The Irish War is officially a part of history, but not for Finnean Whelan, an IRA veteran of almost 40 years. British Intelligence has produced evidence that he is the mastermind behind a conspiracy to assassinate the First Minister of Northern Ireland. For Whelan this is not only a mission of revenge, but marks the beginning of a journey into the past and the return to the one true love: Ireland. [More...]
The Bleeding Hills is available at Amazon.Com, Amazon.co.uk, Barnes & Nobel, and any other good bookstore.