Showing 211 - 220 of 526 annotations tagged with the keyword "Aging"

Losing Julia

Hull, Jonathan

Last Updated: Aug-30-2006
Annotated by:
Nixon, Lois LaCivita

Primary Category: Literature / Fiction

Genre: Novel

Summary:

Losing Julia is narrated by Patrick Delaney, age 81, a World War I veteran, who lives, somewhat independently, in Great Oaks, an assisted living facility. Still able to go into town to get new clothes, books, etc. and enchanted with the kindness and loveliness of Sarah and other female staff members, the well-educated and quick-witted protagonist offers a fresh perspective on "institutional" care.

Much of Patrick’s story, however, concerns Daniel, a war-time buddy, and other soldiers in his embattled unit prior to and during the hellacious Battle of Verdun. Several soldiers are carefully and memorably drawn by the stories they tell about life at home and their aspirations. Daniel stands out as Patrick’s closest friend in the trenches, a young man who is courageous, rational, fearful, and in love with Julia.

Like his peers, Patrick listens to Daniel’s lyrical recollection of the woman others can only imagine. Patrick realizes that he has fallen in love with Julia’s image. Most of the men, including Daniel, are killed brutally in one of the war’s most savage battles. When Patrick’s post-war efforts to find the elusive Julia fail, he marries, works as an accountant, and has two children. Like the war, Julia remains, however, a constant shadow throughout his life.

When a war monument is constructed ten years later on the site of the last atrocious battle, Patrick, his wife, his toddler son, and his sister-in-law journey to Paris. With his family happily detained in Paris, Patrick goes to Verdun alone for the monument’s unveiling ceremonies with many other veterans and grieving family members. It is here that Julia appears and the two become lovers during the time at Verdun and then for a short time in Paris.

The story, non-sequential in its presentation, weaves the various elements of aging, memory, war, love, and loss together for readers to untangle and follow.

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Summary:

These elder tales symbolize the developmental tasks one must master in the second half of life. They deal with psychological and spiritual growth and maturity in the later years. The author defines a fairy tale as "a folk tale with a happy ending, featuring ordinary people in fantastic situations, struggling with basic

human dilemmas." Elder tales offer a welcome relief to the ubiquitous symbols of idealized youth so prevalent in our culture. And they offer "a new image of maturity, centered on wisdom, self-knowledge, and transcendence... virtues of an archetypal figure long overlooked in modern society, but equal in importance to that of the Hero - the Elder."

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Idiots First

Malamud, Bernard

Last Updated: Aug-29-2006
Annotated by:
Kohn, Martin

Primary Category: Literature / Fiction

Genre: Short Story

Summary:

This is a story of parental love and sacrifice and of survival in a hostile world. Mendel, a poor widower who has raised a retarded son, has fought life for years. Now he is fighting death (personified as a burley bearded man named Ginzburg). Mendel’s last task is to assure safe train passage for his son, Isaac, to the boy’s eighty-three-year-old uncle in California. This Mendel accomplishes after scraping enough money together and after winning a final heroic battle with Ginzburg.

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Annotated by:
Ratzan, Richard M.

Primary Category: Literature / Nonfiction

Genre: Memoir

Summary:

This posthumously published short (132 pp) collection is by a former New York Times book reviewer and essayist who was diagnosed with metastatic prostate cancer in 1989 and who died the following year. Broyard responded to his illness by writing about the experience. The book is comprised of six parts:

Part 1: Intoxicated by My Illness

Part 2: Toward a Literature of Illness

Part 3: The Patient Examines the Doctor

Part 4: A Style for Death: Journal Notes, May-September,1990

Part 5: The Literature of Death

Part 6: What the Cystoscope Said

Parts 1, 2 and 5 appeared in slightly different form in the New York Times between 1981 and 1990.

Parts 2 and 3 are in part from a talk Mr. Broyard gave at the Univ. of Chicago Medical School in April 1990. Part 6 is a short story written by Broyard in 1954 about his father’s death.

Mr. Broyard had long been fascinated with death and dying, before his prostatic cancer, publishing "What the Cystoscope Said" in 1954, some 35 years before his own diagnosis. It is as though he had been preparing for what he knew would be his finest work. Always an engaging essayist and reviewer, Mr. Broyard here offers what he did best--a discursive (in the best sense) soliloquy on disease, suffering, the majesty of the educated, reflective person with illness--all amplified with widely ranging withdrawals from the broad literary bank account one would expect of a professional reader and reviewer: one reads about personal fate vis-à-vis D. H. Lawrence’s Women in Love; one reads, as one can read nowhere else, about illness, dying and sexuality and its relevance to Hemingway’s The Sun Also Rises.

Part 1, Intoxicated By My Illness, is a personal statement about the effect of this illness on Broyard’s attitude and is rich with his own and others’ literary sense of how he should and did react to it. Part 2, written later than Part 5, deals with literature and illness as opposed to the emphasis on death in Part 5. Within Part 2 are references to Susan Sontag, Norman Cousins and Siegel, among other students of this subject. It is interesting to compare the more powerful and personal and moving appeal of the later writings on illness (Part 2) to the more abstract, critical ruminations on death (Part 5) at a time when, in fact, Part 5 was a literary exercise. Part 2 is written with the pen of the heart.

Part 3 is a wonderful account of Broyard’s first meeting with his personal physician. While Broyard analyzes this man, he reflects on what he would like in his ideal doctor. Part 4 is a brief (7 pages) collection of short diary entries reminiscent of Dag Hammarskjöld’s Markings. Part 5 includes essays on death and dying in literature and what these books, e.g., Robert Kastenbaum’s Between Life and Death and David Hendin’s Death as a Fact of Life and Ernest Becker’s Denial of Death, have to offer us.

Part 6 is a short story about his father’s death, the son’s sexual escapades and the relationship between the two. Clearly sex, death and their nexus have long been on Broyard’s mind. This is a welcome reflection and is of interest more as it compares to Broyard’s later writings on the subject, especially in Part 2, than for its intrinsic worth as a short story.

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The Keeping Quilt

Polacco, Patricia

Last Updated: Aug-29-2006
Annotated by:
Bertman, Sandra

Primary Category: Literature / Fiction

Genre: Children's Literature

Summary:

The only tangible remnants of Young Anna’s ethnic heritage were her dress and babushka made from the garments Great-Gramma Anna had worn when she came to America. Outgrown, they become the border of a quilt that neighborhood women sew together from scraps of other old family clothing to help them always remember back-home Russia. Used as the Sabbath tablecloth, the huppa (marriage canopy), and as a blanket to wrap the newborns in and to warm the sick and dying, the quilt gets passed down from mother to daughter for four generations.

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Butterfly Effect

Humes, Harry

Last Updated: Aug-24-2006
Annotated by:
McEntyre, Marilyn

Primary Category: Literature / Poetry

Genre: Collection (Poems)

Summary:

These poems offer a rich series of impressions of the speaker's present life, surrounded by family, a garden, and pockets of natural life that evoke memory after memory of a childhood lived in relative poverty with a father whose years as a coal miner damaged his lungs and finally killed him. Allusions to his chronic and worsening illness and his death thread through the poems like a long shadow.

Recurrent images of his blood-stained handkerchief, his coal-smeared face and hands, are echoed in images of the death of an uncle, the deaths of animals, and of a mother strained by poverty and taking frugal measures to preserve small things. The final poem in the collection recalls her in old age, barely able to see, but still "stitching it all together."

The title poem, one of the best, pauses over the famous idea that the flutter of a butterfly's wings might be the source of large effects continents away. Together the collection invites us, without sentimentality, to consider how things are connected over time and come together in memory in compositions one couldn't have anticipated.

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Hair

Corso, Gregory

Last Updated: Aug-23-2006
Annotated by:
Mahl, Evan

Primary Category: Literature / Poetry

Genre: Poem

Summary:

The poem, through an account of the narrator’s experiences with losing hair, explores issues such as aging, sexuality, and our impotence when faced with the vagaries of nature as it transforms our bodies. Ranging from ancient Egyptian lore to dime store pharmacies, Corso weaves a kaleidoscope of images about how humans treat and worry about their hair and how hair has been a mythopoetic vehicle for millennia.

Much of the poem employs angry though humorous language whereby the narrator speaks to his hair and pleads with the gods to reverse his fate. Corso writes, "To lie in bed and be hairless is a blunder only God could allow--"; and later, "Damned be hair! . . . Hair that costs a dollar fifty to be murdered!" The poem ends with an angry diatribe against hair and an inspired denigration of its mythological power.

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Annotated by:
Bertman, Sandra

Primary Category: Visual Arts / Painting/Drawing

Genre: Oil on canvas

Summary:

A figure stands left of center, erect and facing forward in a room. He is, as described by the painting's title, standing between the tall grandfather clock and the bed. Vibrantly colored and painted with a tumultuous energy, this image does not immediately connote Munch's typical themes of death and sickness. Yet his hands hang limply by his side, and the clock (sans hands or numerals) and bed can be understood symbolically, not only as a statement of the relationship between time and sleep, but also as to where Munch sees himself in his artistic career. (He appears to be stepping forward into the room, no longer concerned with time, "impassively awaiting death" (Loshak, p. 106).

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Gaudeamus Igitur

Stone, John

Last Updated: Aug-22-2006
Annotated by:
Coulehan, Jack

Primary Category: Literature / Poetry

Genre: Poem

Summary:

Gaudeamus Igitur was read by Stone as a graduation address for the class of 1982 at Emory University School of Medicine. The poem begins with "For this is the day of joy," and ends with, "Therefore, let us rejoice." Between these two lines, Stone (both poet and physician) piles image after image, detail on detail, paradox on paradox: "there may be no answer," he writes, "For you will not be Solomon / but you will be asked the question nevertheless." He writes about the sorrows ("For whole days will move in the direction of rain") and difficulties ("For the trivia will trap you and the important escape you") of medicine, as well as about the joys of medicine ("For there will be elevators of elation").

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Face Lift

Plath, Sylvia

Last Updated: Aug-21-2006
Annotated by:
Coulehan, Jack

Primary Category: Literature / Poetry

Genre: Poem

Summary:

After a face lift operation, the protagonist tells the poet, "I’m all right." She describes her voyage into anesthesia, where "Darkness wipes me out like chalk on a blackboard . . . . " Afterward, after the dressings come off, she sees that she has grown backwards, "I’m twenty, / Broody and in long skirts on my first husband’s sofa . . . . " "Old sock-face" is gone--no loss! She wakes, "swaddled in gauze, / Pink and smooth as a baby."

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