A stirring book that offers an ideal blend of direction and comfort to fellow caregivers.

MY LIFE REARRANGED

MUSINGS OF AN ALZHEIMER'S CAREGIVER

In this motivational memoir, Miller (No Man’s Land, 2003, etc.) uses poetry and advice to paint a poignant picture of her time as a caregiver to her spouse.

The author’s husband was diagnosed with Alzheimer’s disease at the age of 55, and over time, her role in his life transformed from companion to caregiver to custodian. In this book, she divides this experience into three stages. The “Beginning Stage,” when Alzheimer’s is newly diagnosed, evokes a “flood of emotions,” she says, including “guilt over being short-tempered…sadness and anger about the diagnosis…jealousy toward those more fortunate, fear of the unknown, and doubt about one’s abilities.” This is the time for caregivers to “put things in order,” she asserts, and adjust to a new normal. The “Middle Stage,” she writes, is more of a “holding pattern,” as the patient’s functional abilities significantly decline and the caregiver’s burdens increase. Miller repeatedly emphasizes the need for caregivers to “take care of [their] health and sanity”—in part, by arranging for outside help. The “Final Stage” is often the longest and saddest, she notes, as caregivers prepare for the patient’s final decline: “Trying to carve out a separate life—along with the dichotomy of staying connected while letting go—is the major task for caregivers.” Miller’s artistic prose style is highly effective, and fellow caregivers will appreciate the articulate, genuine sentiments from someone who clearly understands their plight. After offering practical advice in brief chapter introductions, the author presents numerous creatively formatted, emotionally charged prose poems: “I am exhausted, alone, weary, / carrying both of us. Symbiotic victims—one excused, one invisible.” By being open about negative emotions, Miller avoids a major pitfall of many caregiving books in which the authors “must be saints or darn close,” as she puts it. But the book isn’t bleak, as the author also shares personal triumphs, such as finding peace in a support group.

A stirring book that offers an ideal blend of direction and comfort to fellow caregivers.

Pub Date: May 4, 2018

ISBN: 978-0-9679584-0-8

Page Count: 294

Publisher: Kaleidoscope Kare

Review Posted Online: April 5, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: May 15, 2019

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IN MY PLACE

From the national correspondent for PBS's MacNeil-Lehrer Newshour: a moving memoir of her youth in the Deep South and her role in desegregating the Univ. of Georgia. The eldest daughter of an army chaplain, Hunter-Gault was born in what she calls the ``first of many places that I would call `my place' ''—the small village of Due West, tucked away in a remote little corner of South Carolina. While her father served in Korea, Hunter-Gault and her mother moved first to Covington, Georgia, and then to Atlanta. In ``L.A.'' (lovely Atlanta), surrounded by her loving family and a close-knit black community, the author enjoyed a happy childhood participating in activities at church and at school, where her intellectual and leadership abilities soon were noticed by both faculty and peers. In high school, Hunter-Gault found herself studying the ``comic-strip character Brenda Starr as I might have studied a journalism textbook, had there been one.'' Determined to be a journalist, she applied to several colleges—all outside of Georgia, for ``to discourage the possibility that a black student would even think of applying to one of those white schools, the state provided money for black students'' to study out of state. Accepted at Michigan's Wayne State, the author was encouraged by local civil-rights leaders to apply, along with another classmate, to the Univ. of Georgia as well. Her application became a test of changing racial attitudes, as well as of the growing strength of the civil-rights movement in the South, and Gault became a national figure as she braved an onslaught of hostilities and harassment to become the first black woman to attend the university. A remarkably generous, fair-minded account of overcoming some of the biggest, and most intractable, obstacles ever deployed by southern racists. (Photographs—not seen.)

Pub Date: Nov. 1, 1992

ISBN: 0-374-17563-2

Page Count: 192

Publisher: Farrar, Straus and Giroux

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Sept. 1, 1992

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Necessarily swift and adumbrative as well as inclusive, focused, and graceful.

A LITTLE HISTORY OF POETRY

A light-speed tour of (mostly) Western poetry, from the 4,000-year-old Gilgamesh to the work of Australian poet Les Murray, who died in 2019.

In the latest entry in the publisher’s Little Histories series, Carey, an emeritus professor at Oxford whose books include What Good Are the Arts? and The Unexpected Professor: An Oxford Life in Books, offers a quick definition of poetry—“relates to language as music relates to noise. It is language made special”—before diving in to poetry’s vast history. In most chapters, the author deals with only a few writers, but as the narrative progresses, he finds himself forced to deal with far more than a handful. In his chapter on 20th-century political poets, for example, he talks about 14 writers in seven pages. Carey displays a determination to inform us about who the best poets were—and what their best poems were. The word “greatest” appears continually; Chaucer was “the greatest medieval English poet,” and Langston Hughes was “the greatest male poet” of the Harlem Renaissance. For readers who need a refresher—or suggestions for the nightstand—Carey provides the best-known names and the most celebrated poems, including Paradise Lost (about which the author has written extensively), “Kubla Khan,” “Ozymandias,” “The Charge of the Light Brigade,” Wordsworth and Coleridge’s Lyrical Ballads, which “changed the course of English poetry.” Carey explains some poetic technique (Hopkins’ “sprung rhythm”) and pauses occasionally to provide autobiographical tidbits—e.g., John Masefield, who wrote the famous “Sea Fever,” “hated the sea.” We learn, as well, about the sexuality of some poets (Auden was bisexual), and, especially later on, Carey discusses the demons that drove some of them, Robert Lowell and Sylvia Plath among them. Refreshingly, he includes many women in the volume—all the way back to Sappho—and has especially kind words for Marianne Moore and Elizabeth Bishop, who share a chapter.

Necessarily swift and adumbrative as well as inclusive, focused, and graceful.

Pub Date: April 21, 2020

ISBN: 978-0-300-23222-6

Page Count: 304

Publisher: Yale Univ.

Review Posted Online: Feb. 9, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 1, 2020

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