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Do You Remember Me?: A Father, a Daughter, and a Search for the Selfby Judith Levine
Synopses & Reviews
In her award-winning andlt;Iandgt;Harmful to Minorsandlt;/Iandgt;, Judith Levine radically disturbed our fixed ideas about childhood. Now, the poignantly personal andlt;Iandgt;Do You Remember Me?andlt;/Iandgt; tackles the other end of life. The book is both the memoir of a daughter coming to terms with a difficult father who is sinking into dementia and an insightful exploration of the ways we think about disability, aging, and the self as it resides in the body and the world. andlt;BRandgt; In prose that is unsentimental yet moving, serious yet darkly funny, complex in emotion and ideas yet spare in diction, Levine reassembles her father's personal and professional history even as he is losing track of it. She unpeels the layers of his complicated personality and uncovers information that surprises even her mother, to whom her father has been married for more than sixty years. andlt;BRandgt; As her father deteriorates, the family consensus about who he was and is and how best to care for him constantly threatens to collapse. Levine recounts the painful discussions, mad outbursts, and gingerly negotiations, and dissects the shifting alliances among family, friends, and a changing guard of hired caretakers. Spending more and more time with her father, she confronts a relationship that has long felt bereft of love. By caring for his needs, she learns to care about and, slowly, to love him. andlt;BRandgt; While Levine chronicles these developments, she looks outside her family for the sources of their perceptions and expectations, deftly weaving politics, science, history, and philosophy into their personal story. A memoir opens up to become a critique of our culture's attitudes toward the old and demented. A claustrophobic account of Alzheimer's is transformed into a complex lesson about love, duty, and community. andlt;BRandgt; What creates a self and keeps it whole? Levine insists that only the collaboration of others can safeguard her father's self against the riddling of his brain. Embracing interdependence and vulnerability, not autonomy and productivity, as the seminal elements of our humanity, Levine challenges herself and her readers to find new meaning, even hope, in one man's mortality and our own.
"Unsentimental and unsparing, this work studies in unnerving detail what happens when the mind begins to separate from the body and how our society has no model for coping with such fragmentation." Publishers Weekly
"[A] maddening, very human dance, and Levine gets it down just right. Roiling, confrontational family portrait." Kirkus Reviews
"[A] sensitive, insightful memoir." Library Journal
Book News Annotation:
In this memoir, Levine chronicles her family's struggles to care for her father after he was diagnosed with Alzheimer's disease. Through telling this story, she explores the cultural, historical, and political meanings of dementia and aging in a "hypercognitive" society that values self-reliance. The medicalization of the normal aging process is also addressed. Levine is a freelance writer who specializes in issues of sex, race, and cultural politics.
Annotation ©2004 Book News, Inc., Portland, OR (booknews.com)
Unsentimental yet moving, dead serious yet darkly funny--this incisively written memoir recounts Levine's struggle to care for her aging father while offering an unflinching critique of our culture's attitude toward the old and disabled.
About the Author
Over the past twenty-five years, Judith Levine has written about the ways in which culture, politics, and history are enacted in people's intimate lives. Her articles and essays have appeared in dozens of national publications, including Harper's, The New York Times, and salon.com. Her other books include My Enemy, My Love: Women, Masculinity, and the Dilemmas of Gender and Harmful to Minors: The Perils of Protecting Children from Sex, which was awarded the Los Angeles Times Book Prize in 2002. Levine lives in Brooklyn, New York, and Hardwick, Vermont
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