Alzheimer’s Daughter by Jean Lee is a triple threat memoir with an unthinkable premise. One parent diagnosed with Alzheimer’s disease is a crisis, two parents diagnosed with Alzheimer’s is a disaster. Dual diagnoses and decline at the exact same time is a tragedy of epic proportions.
Alzheimer’s Daughter follows adult sisters, Rosie and Annette, as they discover and manage the progressing cognitive impairments of their aging parents. Ed and Ibby Church are a loving couple in their eighties who’ve been married for over sixty years. Their two children are united in efforts acting as responsible caregivers to keep the parents they love safe through heartbreaking decisions, from the first telling hints of memory lapses through the inevitable end of life issues.
A friend loaned me The Thieves of Manhattan by Adam Langer recently and recommended I read it. Knowing I was a writer and aspiring author, this friend felt certain I would enjoy this story. I was at first skeptical; this book did not fall into the categories I devote my limited leisure time to read: classics like The Great Gatsby, Little Women or Wuthering Heights, or narrative nonfiction and self-help books similar to my own genre of writing.
What the heck? I decided to take a break from the norm and give it a try. All I had to lose was a little extra time. As it turned out, my friend knows me pretty well. I truly enjoyed reading The Thieves of Manhattan. It’s an action-packed story about two writers in New York with a history of failure in the publishing industry. Their lives intertwine in a book-writing scam and suddenly they are living the Indiana Jones version of an author’s action/adventure in New York City. The book includes a lot of humorous jabs at the publishing industry and intentionally blurs the lines between fiction and nonfiction writing. By the end, the boundaries between what is real (a memoir) and what is fake (a novel) have been completely overstepped.
It took working on writing a book to make me realize that I’m not all that interested in talking about the past, and that the best expression of my life and its ups and downs has been and remains my music.
The legacy of any musician of Joel’s caliber is of course his music, and I would much rather reference his brilliant music and songwriting instead of a tell-all memoir of forced confessions written by someone else (Fred Schruers). While Joel himself might respond to the criticism, “You may be right, I may be crazy,” I say bravo, Billy!
I read a lovely excerpt in Parade Magazine this morning from Ron Reagan’s new memoir My Father at 100 about his father, former President Ronald Reagan. The excerpt discusses the first hints of Alzheimer’s disease surfacing during Reagan’s presidency, and the former President’s son has some beautiful insight regarding how Alzheimer’s disease might have affected his father’s duties in office:
That likely condition, though, serves as a reminder that when we elect presidents, we elect human beings with all their foibles and weaknesses. I find something courageous in my father’s dedicated pursuit – even in the face of his declining powers – of peaceful rapprochement with the Soviet Union, the world’s other nuclear superpower, throughout his second term. He never stopped wanting to save the world.