The Trouble with Reality

Some days I wish Oprah could be President for a few weeks, just so she could lead a national book club, stealthily getting the entire population to read the same book at the same time. Today, I hope she’d begin with Brook Gladstone’s The Trouble with Reality. It’s an easy read, short and full of […]

25 Things about Boyhood

I watched Boyhood again during a very long plane ride, returning to the U.S. after some time in two very different countries: the United Arab Emirates and Sri Lanka. Sometimes I like to imitate the list style of Matias Viegener’s 2500 Random Things about Me Too. I love that book, and I enjoy imitating other […]

The Shaking Woman, or a History of My Nerves, by Siri Hustvedt

Siri Hustvedt’s The Shaking Woman, or a History of My Nerves,  is a genre-bending memoir that calls itself an essay and manages somehow to read like a mystery novel. The mystery plot is driven by Hustvedt’s search for the roots of her body’s startling behavior: the sudden onset of a condition that caused her to convulse […]

Howard Dully’s Lobotomy

When he was 12, Howard Dully had his brain sliced into by a notorious surgeon with a reputation in decline. According to Dully’s convincing account, his stepmother Lou fabricated a diagnostic history so that the stepson she always hated would appear to be a candidate for the transorbital lobotomy favored by California physician Walter Freeman. It used […]

TO LOVE WHAT IS, by Alix Kates Shulman

To Love What Is: A Marriage Transformed is novelist Alix Kates Shulman‘s sharp and moving account of living with her husband Scott after a brain injury that left his memory severely impaired, but other aspects of his self intact. Shulman’s book dissects the difference between memory and identity more thoroughly and sensitively than any other I’ve read. […]

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