Showing 71 - 80 of 2829 Literature annotations
Summary:This is a dramatic and moving story about a concert pianist who, at 45 years of age, suddenly and inexplicably, has ALS, and also equally about his ex-wife Karina, who takes on his care throughout his slow, inevitable, and lethal decline. As many readers know, ALS (Amyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis). or “Lou Gherig’s disease,” hardens the motor nerves so that, progressively, there is no more control of muscles throughout the body. Not many readers know, however, the difficult path such patients and their families must pursue. This sensitive and detailed novel takes readers powerfully into the world of ALS, a disease for which there is today no cure.
Summary:Fran, an aging but energetic expert on elder housing, drives around the English countryside visiting facilities and also friends and family. She, herself, is not at all ready to go gentle into the good night so many others are facing. But everywhere she encounters reminders of mortality--her son's fiancee suddenly dies; an old friend is dying a lingering death of cancer; others in her circle of family and friends are facing their own or others' mortality in various ways, including natural disasters like earthquake and flood. The episodic story takes place in England and in the Canary Islands; the large cast of characters are linked by intersecting stories and by their mortality, of which they, and the reader, are recurrently reminded.
Summary:From the late 18th to mid-19th centuries a peculiar trend swept through European fashion. Through couture and cosmetics, this vogue emulated the physical ravages of a much-feared disease, tuberculosis, aestheticizing its symptoms as enviable qualities of physical beauty. Pale skin, stooped posture, white teeth, an emaciated figure, and a white complexion that evinced delicate blue veins were lauded by the era’s posh fashion journals. Carolyn A. Day aptly terms this craze a “tubercular moment,” a cultural phenomenon that elevated the grim realities of physical illness to a plane of desirable beauty. Medical discourses promoting the fragility and refinement of the “sensible” body were inspired by romanticized notions of morbidity, suffering, and illness. These discourses coincided with the the ideologies of Romanticism, a philosophical movement that was popularly understood to be a counter-discourse to the Enlightenment through its emphasis on emotion and imagination. Day cites the English poet, John Keats, whose legacy emphatically contributed to the cult of sensibility, as he embodied a living example of the refined tubercular body endowed with artistic genius but doomed to illness. The male artist was an example of a body too sensitive, too delicate to endure earthly life, but one whose intellect left an indelible imprint on culture.
Summary:In 1869 in the remote northern Scottish village of Culduie, teenager Roderick (Roddy) Macrae brutally murders his neighbor, Lachlan “Broad’ Mackenzie, and two others. He readily admits to his crime, motivated, he says, by a desire to end the dreadful vendetta that Broad waged against his widowed father. The sympathetic defence lawyer, Andrew Simpson, urges him to write an account of the events leading up to the tragedy.
Summary:Two weeks before his death in 2015, Sacks oversaw this collection of essays and charged Kate Edgar, Daniel Frank, and Bill Hayes to arrange its publication. The essays touch on various fields—evolution, botany, chemistry, medicine, neuroscience, and the arts, and focus on major figures such as Darwin, Freud, and William James. The major theme—as indicated by the volume’s title—is how minds (of humans, chimps, even jellyfish) interpret and remember what the senses perceive in normal and in limited states. While we read in the Foreword that “a number” of the pieces originally appeared in The New York Review of Books, there are no citations for dates and places.
Summary:Melvin Dixon’s poem, “Heartbeats,” portrays the steady atrophy of someone suffering a fatal disease. The anonymous narrator first appears as healthy and vigorous:
“Work out. Ten Laps.
Chin ups. Look good.
Sweetheart. Safe sex.”
Reds thin. Whites low.”
Brother, I come o'er many seas and landsTo the sad rite which pious love ordains,To pay thee the last gift that death demands ;And oft, though vain, invoke thy mute remains :Since death has ravish'd half myself in thee,Oh wretched brother, sadly torn from me !And now ere fate our souls shall re-unite,To give me back all it hath snatch'd away,Receive the gifts, our fathers' ancient riteTo shades departed still was wont to pay ;Gifts wet with tears of heartfelt grief that tell,And ever, brother, bless thee, and farewell!
Summary:An extended essay on the experience of child immigrants woven around the forty questions that author Valeria Luiselli asks in her work as a translator for children seeking entry into the United States.
Summary:The narrator tracks a hypothetical week in the life and work of a psychiatrist in a major Canadian hospital through the stories of individual patients, some of whom were willing to be identified by name.
Summary:A family epic set in rural Mississippi and spanning several generations. Often described as a road novel by reviewers, the story centers on Jojo, a 13-year-old boy struggling to protect his younger sister Kayla from the disarray of his parents' influence: one Black, one White; one in prison; both addicted to meth. These forces contend with Jojo's stoic yet caring grandfather, his mystical-spiritual grandmother, his bigoted grandparents on the other side, and the strange passenger they collect while on the road.