I cannot be objective because I knew the man the book is about, and it broke my heart reading about his deterioration. His wife was brave to write and...moreI cannot be objective because I knew the man the book is about, and it broke my heart reading about his deterioration. His wife was brave to write and share her experience.(less)
Sedaris is finally just a bit too creepy for me in this one, and it will be the last of his books that I read. His treatment of the hapless mouse was...moreSedaris is finally just a bit too creepy for me in this one, and it will be the last of his books that I read. His treatment of the hapless mouse was the last straw, but I had felt a bit sick already since he had had trouble restraining himself from touching the boy. Yuck. (less)
My interest is in the ageing process, so I would have bought this book no matter who had written it. Kirk Douglas is really good company, as he ambles...moreMy interest is in the ageing process, so I would have bought this book no matter who had written it. Kirk Douglas is really good company, as he ambles through his day, through his garden, through his memories. This is very poignant, honest and touching. I was engaged the entire time even though I had not seen the movies referred to, nor did I recognize the famous people of an earlier era who were his friends. It is wonderful cultural history, and an insight into how an ageing person integrates their life as they ruminate over the details. Very warmly written, with humor and self-deprecation. I respect him very much for the complex and painful process of growth he shared in this book, especially regarding the death of his son by suicide. (less)
This book is presented as being about September 11th, but is also a memoir about growing up white, middle-class and blind in the mid-20th century USA....moreThis book is presented as being about September 11th, but is also a memoir about growing up white, middle-class and blind in the mid-20th century USA. The author earned a Masters degree in Physics so is clearly brilliant; he is no ordinary guy but someone exceptional. He tells about how his family insisted he be treated like his other sighted siblings.
[I don't know that I approve of blind people riding bicycles or driving vehicles on public streets, or piloting airplanes - all of which he has claimed to have done - but it is surely an eye opener that they feel entitled to do so, despite the risks to themselves and others.]
It is also very interesting to learn how guide-dogs are selected and trained, and finally matched with their blind human. Working animals, dogs in particular, are the unsung heroes of human life. I am not certain we have the moral right to use animals the way we do, but this particular dog was well loved and well treated, and had plenty of time off. I think guide-dogs are amazing and wonderful, and am so grateful for the work done by their organisations to improve life for the blind.
The book needed better editing, as there are repeated passages throughout as if he had forgotten that he had already fully explained some aspect of his life. The acclaim he has received since the publication of the book was surprising to me since his experience was rather straight-forward and not particularly heroic; he kept his cool and walked down 78 floors with his well-trained guide dog, that was it. He was one of the lucky ones.
What probably makes it so compelling for readers is imagining their own utter helplessness if it had had been them, blind and trying to escape from the World Trade Center. It is our fears and ignorance about blindness that terrify us, but in this book we learn that blindness is different than we ever imagined, and that is a very worthwhile lesson.(less)
This is not a memoir, per se, because Dr James thought he was keeping a private journal for just a couple of years. It contains a lot of measurements,...moreThis is not a memoir, per se, because Dr James thought he was keeping a private journal for just a couple of years. It contains a lot of measurements, descriptions and complaints about the weather, as well as private information about the treatment of his patients. He records what he has read each day, or not had time to read but wanted to. He gives his opinion of the local populace, and that is why I wanted to read it; I had family in Osceola in those years, and wanted to hear more about the daily life there. For that purpose it was actually very enjoyable. I understand that it is one of the few primary sources available from this region of northeast Arkansas; that must be its merit. I had a 2nd Great Grand Aunt appear in one of his daily items, mentioning that she and her husband had just been converted to the Baptist Church and undergone full immersion baptism. Then, he wrote, her father, brother and husband went and got drunk at the local saloon! That revelation made it a worthwhile purchase and read for me. I also felt admiration and sympathy for the doctor himself, as he was so worldly and cultivated, hence out of place in rural Arkansas. Luckily he could get away to Memphis to the opera, theatre, and bookshops once in awhile. This book is no longer in print but I can recommend it to anyone interested in family or local history based in northeastern Arkansas. It is available online used, and in some libraries.(less)