- Hardcover: 368 pages
- Publisher: Graywolf Press (August 1, 1998)
- Language: English
- ISBN-10: 1555972780
- ISBN-13: 978-1555972783
- Product Dimensions: 6.5 x 1.2 x 9.5 inches
- Shipping Weight: 1.2 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
- Average Customer Review: 14 customer reviews
- Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #3,170,503 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
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Nola: A Memoir of Faith, Art, and Madness Hardcover – August 1, 1998
The Amazon Book Review
Author interviews, book reviews, editors picks, and more. Read it now
Robin Hemley, author of the illuminating nonfiction book "Turning Life into Fiction," relates the poignant story of his brilliant but schizophrenic sister, Nola, who died at age 25. But it is more than just her story; this is a tender examination of a talented life lost too soon, and of a family that loved each other desperately, despite the pain that Nola's illness cost them all.
Hemley takes the memoir form further than mere recollection of familial events, and delves into the arena of imagination and what if. His mission to tell Nola's story is complicated by the fickleness of family members' memories, the mystic nature of much of Nola's work, and his own admission that he covets her strange and wonderful story himself. The result is a surprising and honest process of both writing and discovery--finding the "facts" and revealing the truths about the way we remember and what we try to forget. This is not a book to rush through, but one to savor and think about for a good long time. --Susan Swartwout
From Publishers Weekly
A diagnosed schizophrenic, Nola Hemley died in 1973 of a medication overdose at the age of 25. In this affecting, highly inventive memoir, Hemley's younger half-brother, a creative writing teacher and the author of Turning Life into Fiction, attempts to understand what led his gifted sister down the path toward mental illness, drawing on her journals and artwork as well as his own memories of her. There are, he discovers, no obvious answers, and his frustration in trying to comprehend the workings of Nola's mind is palpable: "Whatever I say condemns her, romanticizes her, lies about her, idolizes her, but never, never recreates her in all her complexity." Perhaps that's why the book keeps veering away from its ostensible subject to tell the story of the author's own childhood and to explore his parents' lives. In the end, Hemley's strikingly, often fascinatingly, postmodern narrative tells us more about the challenges and ramifications of writing a personal memoir than about its subject's life. Readers in search of an in-depth account of a family's struggle with mental illness may come away frustrated by Hemley's sometimes oblique treatment of this theme, but those interested in writing as a process will find his articulate musings amply rewarding.
Copyright 1998 Reed Business Information, Inc.