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Rowing Without Oars: A Memoir of Living and Dying Paperback – March 27, 2007

4.6 out of 5 stars 5 customer reviews

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*Starred Review* Everyone knows they will someday die. Someday. But while death is unavoidable, people generally prefer not to think about it. In that, Swedish telejournalist Lindquist was just like everybody else. She was, after all, a fit, active 49-year-old who had a busy life filled with family, friends, and career. Even after she noticed subtle signs of degenerating muscle strength, sought medical opinions, and suspected she had ALS (amyotrophic lateral sclerosis, or Lou Gehrig's disease), her thoughts were divided between hoping for the best and dreading the worst. By the time bad news was confirmed, she had begun to keep this journal of her experience with the terminal illness, a record of tasting and savoring each moment, each event, as if it would be the last for her. Some might, mistakenly, believe that grace is meek and soft, but Lindquist's unflinching honesty attests that it can be quite different. She makes it known that she lived the final months with grace and dignity despite an illness whose single-minded purpose seemed to be to afflict her with precisely the opposite conditions. This was a Swedish best-seller, and little wonder. Donna Chavez
Copyright © American Library Association. All rights reserved --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

Review

Haunting and powerful . . . In her words and her insights, [Lindquist] triumphs. -- Abraham Verghese, author of The Tennis Partner and My Own Country

I have never read anything like it—its quietness, its courage, its lucidity; I found it searing, beautiful, terrifying, and at the same time, affirming—and reassuring. -- Dr. Oliver Sacks

Lyrical, meditative . . . and inspirational. -- Newsday
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Product Details

  • Paperback: 208 pages
  • Publisher: Penguin Books (March 27, 2007)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0143038672
  • ISBN-13: 978-0143038672
  • Product Dimensions: 5.1 x 0.6 x 7.2 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 4 ounces
  • Average Customer Review: 4.6 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (5 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #2,843,803 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Customer Reviews

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Top Customer Reviews

Format: Hardcover
Small book, small pages, largish clean font, spare writing style. It occurs to me that the smallness of the book reflects how little time passed between the author's diagnosis of ALS and her death.

On the other hand, Ms. Lindquist, the author who died after writing the book, learned from her son "every second is a life." The author made a goal to live as completely as possible in the present she had left.

Through Ms. Lindquist's eyes, we see how inexorably life goes on around us even when we are, individually, in thrall to our own mortal endings. Reminds me of a documentary where you see a lion at the throat of a still-standing antelope culled from the herd. The kill is in slo-mo, and while you watch the dramatic - and futile - throes of the dying antelope, other members of the herd may continue to graze, saunter or trot a bit further way.

Ms. Lindquist's experience also gives a good glimpse into the Swedish health care system, to wit: It is no less a victim to bureaucracy than the American system. On the other hand, Ms. Lindquist, once she does wade through it, reaps the benefit of pretty wondrous care as she goes through the process of dying.

This is a grim story of one person's dying. ALS is not an easy death.

I'm glad I read it, and do recommend the book.
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Format: Hardcover
Ulla-Carin Lindquist's poignant personal journey with ALS is a well written account containing many end of life issues - end of life as one knows it, end of dreams for the future, the beginning of a different way of framing events of the past, and the slow deterioration of health and abilities once taken for granted. Relationships are explored while emotions are uncovered or discovered. This book is filled with real thoughts from an intelligent woman undergoing tremondous hardship, yet done with beauty and hope.

Ulla-Carin was a popular newscaster on Swedish Television.

Three parts of the book stayed with me (might be a spoiler if you're planning on reading the book - I'm not sure). One, when her now grown daughter describes that all she ever wanted when her mom was a busy career newswoman was to have a full day to spend with her, and she never could (ouch!)but now that Ulla-Carin is sick she has all of the time each day to spend as she wishes within her limitations - another, when her boys play communication games (very touching and some just for FUN!) and a thought her young son introduces into her life, and which she introduces earlier but then she ends the book.
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Format: Paperback
I read this little book in the course of two days. I will remember Ulla-Carin Lindquist and her book for the rest of my life. It is beautifully written: full of feeling and yet without a a sticky sentimentality. I took notes. There are many thing Ulla-Carin said i want to remember or quote another time. It is a very Swedish, very plain, very powerful account of illness and dying. I learned a lot about life and death from reading it and what I might do or not do in the future when visiting or helping those who are ill. I am grateful to the author, and I recommend "Rowing without Oars" to all who are not kidding themselves about the realities of birth, life, sickness, old age and death. This is the real thing. And it's so beautiful!
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Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
This memoir just took me a little over a weekend to read. It may be a small book but it is a very powerful one. I was very moved when I read it. It certainly gave me great insight to what someone with A.L.S. lives with on a daily basis. What a brave woman she was!
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Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
very good book to read more times thank you
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