In 2014, veteran ABC science broadcaster Robyn Williams was diagnosed with bowel cancer. It was, he reports, his third brush with death, following cardiac arrest in 1988 and bladder cancer in 1991. His description of the experience, including surgical reduction of his gut and rectum and subsequent debilitating chemotherapy, is brief but graphic. He has survived, but the experience, as he puts it, quite literally, gave him the shits. More positively though, it also resulted in this book: a collection of letters from the brink, ‘the book you write when you don’t have much time left’, although it is not entirely clear whether this lack of time is his own or, collectively, ours.