Remind Me Who I Am, Again Audio Cassette – Nov 2000
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From Publishers Weekly
Grant first charted her mother's decline into senile dementia in an article for the Guardian (U.K.). In response to a flood of readers' letters and her own need to examine her extended family history, she expanded that article into this moving account of second-generation Anglo-Jewry, published last year in England. Dual themes of memory and identity underlie the sad account of her mother's illness, which also becomes a metaphor for the lost history of an immigrant family. The family's roots in Eastern Europe were effectively destroyed, not only by the Holocaust but also by the family's desire to remember selectively, and not always truthfully, the story of its past. As a child, Grant thought family stories a bore; now she regrets her lack of interest and lost opportunities to know more about her parents. She chronicles her mother's decline with unflinching honesty, revealing her guilt and impatience with her mother's condition and her failings as a daughter. With nostalgic humor, she looks back on the experiences of her large, extended family of observant Jews who settled in a country where anti-Semitism, while not as virulent as in the Poland they had left, was not unknown. As her mother's condition deteriorates, Grant and her sister come to the painful decision to place her in a nursing home. While there is no upbeat ending to Grant's story, she affirms that people can react with dignity and sensitivity to the inevitable tragedies of old age. (June)
Copyright 2000 Reed Business Information, Inc. --This text refers to the Hardcover edition.
About the Author
Linda Grant was born in Liverpool on 15 February 1951, the child of Russian and Polish Jewish immigrants. She is the author of several works of non-fiction and four novels, including When I Lived in Modern Times (Granta) which won the 2000 Orange Prize for fiction. She lives in North London. --This text refers to the Paperback edition.See all Product Description
Top Customer Reviews
Most Helpful Customer Reviews on Amazon.com (beta)
I can relate to it as my father went thru a similar decline over a 3 year period. He suffered from TIA "mini-strokes" that slowly diminish selected brain capabilities, many times without the victim's or family's knowledge. Linda relates a similar experience. It's frustrating in not ever really knowing what is going on inside his ticker when you speak. It's frustrating to know that each person loses different capabilities at different times. It drags you down, with everything seeming so one-sided. It's frustrating that modern medicine is essentially powerless to stop this degeneration, with no effective tools or strategy.
Linda is much more articulate than I could be in describing the same experience I went through.
If it does nothing more, it gives those of us a comparative basis by which to judge our own decisions in similar circumstances.
For those who have been thru this, it gives us someone to relate to. For those who have not, it prepares you. As a boomer, I've finally graduated to what I call 'adulthood': where we are sandwiched between two generations who both depend upon us. Calling the experience overwhelming only begins to describe it.
Worth the read.
It tends to ramble, and the family history bits aren't written in a way that would necessarily be interesting to a non-family member. There are bits in the middle where she appears to get lazy and just quotes her journal, all in italics and fragmentary sentences. And there are sections in the end which just throw in random family members and their history and that's pretty boring. But Ms. Grant has a charming and informal if frantic style of writing, so I found RMWIAA relatively easy to read, despite a sometimes irritating unawareness. Despite all the research she's apparently done (and she quotes it in a style reminiscent of a high school essay), she's unable to attribute her mother's (atrocious) behaviour to brain damage, and instead keeps blaming it all on her personality and a return to a "childish" stage. Then again, if I had a mother like that, maybe I wouldn't be able to look past it either.
Either way, I wish it had been edited (hello Granta editor) and presented more evenly and interestingly because Ms. Grant does have writing talent and stories to tell. I got through this one only because of my interest in stories about memory loss, but wouldn't have otherwise.
US readers may be a little wistful about the UK's better long-term care system. But more accessible institutions really can't erase the sadness of the whole situation, and I found the womens' struggles so easy to empathize with.
Literally couldn't put it down. It's a keeper.