Tuesday 26 July 2011

One Hundred Names for Love

Finished July 24
One Hundred Names for Love: a stroke, a marriage, and the language of healing by Diane Ackerman
I admit that I've taken my time over this book for a couple of reasons. First the writing is so good (as Ackerman always is) that I wanted to take my time and really savour it. Second, the ideas she presents are so provoking that I want to take the time to think about them and how I feel about them.
The book is told over time beginning with Ackerman's Paul West (who is also an author that I haven't yet read, but am now intrigued to) having a massive stroke that resulted in global aphasia. That means he lost his language skills. He couldn't talk, or read, or understand. It begins in the hospital with evaluation and treatment. At first Paul can only say "mem" which he says over and over. He has some physical challenges as well in moving his body, relearning how to walk steadily, sit down, get into bed and hold objects. Two fingers on his right hand are cramped up into a claw.
Despite the massive brain damage, Ackerman and West refuse to give up. Ackerman details their daily life once West moves home, how they adjust their routine, how Ackerman must change her relationship with him, and what therapies they use are.
This is indeed a story of love. Because of Paul's long relationship with language as a writer, language is one of the main tools they use in their therapy. Ackerman is totally open and honest in this book, sharing her doubts, joys, and innermost feelings. A wonderful book with insights into the mysteries of healing.

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