Friday, April 3, 2009

Readalikes - Still Alice by Lisa Genova

Still Alice, by Lisa Genova is the winner of the 2008 Bronte Prize. It tells the story of a 50 year old woman who is suddenly struck with early onset Alzheimer's. We see her life as her illness progresses and she begins to lose her memory and her life becomes a confusing, frightening place. Genova writes from the perspective of having a PhD in Neuroscience from Harvard University. She succeeds in capturing what it must be like to have this devastating condition. This novel's unique perspective is making it a book discussion group favourite.

While you are waiting for your turn to read this book, a few others come to mind that might be of interest.

Iris and the Friends: A Memoir of Memory and Desire by John Bayley. Murdoch and Bayley had a long and loving marriage which ended with Murdoch's Alzheimer's and death. This is his unflinching chronicle and tribute to their final years together.

Deaf Sentence, by David Lodge. This novel is much lighter in tone, downright funny in places. It does however give you an insight into the life of a person who is going deaf, written by someone who has first hand experience.

Laugh, I thought I'd Die, by Dennis Kaye. Afflicted with ALS, Kaye typed the manuscript for this book himself with a mechanism strapped to his forehead. He charts the progress of this disabilitating disease but ends with an assurance of the love and joy still in his home.

Girl, Interrupted, by Susanna Kaysen. At age 18 Kaysen was resident at a pychiatric hospital (interestingly the same hospital where Sylvia Plath was once treated). This is her (almost) no-holds barred memoir of this time.

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