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