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When It Gets Dark: An Enlightened Reflection on Life with Alzheimer's Paperback – August 21, 2007

4.2 out of 5 stars 8 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

DeBaggio's second memoir expands on his first, 2002's Losing My Mind. He turns away from the immediacies of Alzheimer's diagnosis and treatment and toward the past that his illness is gradually obscuring. During the late 1960s and early '70s, DeBaggio struggled as an underpaid reporter, new husband and father in Arlington, Va. Only when he launched a career as a commercial herb grower, working in greenhouses he built in his own suburban backyard, did he find success. An Alzheimer's diagnosis came at the unusually early age of 57. These specifics are rather deeply imbedded in a book composed primarily of simple, moment-to-moment observations, with gentle, cumulative strength and little drama. DeBaggio gives tension to his narrative by shifting back and forth between his past and present, with changes in tense and typography acting as signposts. But things get complicated when he weaves in numerous bits of other prose and poetry, including personal and professional correspondence, his own odd and sudden thoughts (e.g., "This is a county fair of the mind") and quotes from the likes of Beckett, Breton and William Carlos Williams. The book is at its best in describing the particulars of DeBaggio's career as an herb grower: shooing suburban raccoons, teaching orphaned baby robins to feed and fly, ignoring neighbors' skeptical attitudes. The horticultural writing, understated and often poetic, rivals that of Michael Pollard and Jamaica Kincaid and will reward patient readers.
Copyright 2003 Reed Business Information, Inc. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

From Booklist

There are lots of books about grieving the loss of a loved one and getting on with life, far fewer about grieving one's own loss of life. DeBaggio offers one of the latter, a memoir about the daily depredations of Alzheimer's disease, which permits no getting on with life. DeBaggio has been handed a death sentence and makes no apologies for his anger and fear. As he says, we live on memories, whether a particular memory is knowing how to drive a car or the recollection of someone we love. The loss of memory is the loss of self. This is not a hopeful story, but a true-life story that in DeBaggio's still capable hands is almost a poignant prose poem about an ordinary man, a herb grower and journalist with an unremarkable history, who is going through a terrifying ordeal. Donna Chavez
Copyright © American Library Association. All rights reserved --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.
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Product Details

  • Paperback: 240 pages
  • Publisher: Free Press (August 21, 2007)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1416573208
  • ISBN-13: 978-1416573203
  • Product Dimensions: 5.5 x 0.6 x 8.5 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 13.1 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.2 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (8 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #591,177 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Top Customer Reviews

Format: Paperback
I read the book because I was helped by reading Mr. DeBaggio's first book "Losing My Mind". "When It Gets Dark" was just as inciteful. I have recommended both books to others and have given several copies as gifts. The books helped me see Alzheimers Disease from the perspective of my husband. I learned that it is very important for me to make the adjustments in our relationship and not get upset by every change in his behavior. I learned that humor helps both of us and that I can do some things I felt I would have trouble doing for him.
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Format: Hardcover
Book illustrates that people with alzheimer's are human. Baggio , an Alzhiemer's victim) takes us on a journey of his life long affair with gardening. This sensitvely chronicles an ordinairy life as being something special. It lets us know that all of our lives are special and to be handled with care. This reader developed a bond with the author through his well chosen words. Worth reading if you are pre-disposed to alzheimer's though family history, have it or know someone who does. This is a delightfully sensitive and artistic book on a dreadful disease. It certainly helps with coping with it.
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Format: Hardcover
I really liked this one. It tells about the story of a 57 year of man who has Alzheimers,his love of gardening, his wife, son, love of cats,and his Italian family roots. It was a nice story about a man dealing with the disease and his family. I read this book in one night. Well written and a great choice of words. Parts of this book took me back to the old days when he talks of his family.
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Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
The author of this book starts his story and then goes off on a tangent with something else. It is hard to follow. I guess that is to be expected since he does have Alzheimer's. He also inserts short pieces from other authors, which in my opinion have nothing to do with what he is writing about. Parts of the book are enjoyable, but on the whole I don't think it would appeal to very many people.
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