Books & Books, Coral Gables. Apr 13, 2011. 8:00 p.m.
Intensely lyrical and profoundly moving, One Hundred Names for Love is at once a tender love story and an inspiring chronicle of illness and recovery. Diane Ackerman brings us an absorbing, uplifting account of the near-miraculous recovery of her husband, the gifted writer Paul West, after a massive stroke that rendered him unable to communicate or understand language.
One day, Ackerman’s husband, an exceptionally gifted wordsmith and intellectual, suffered a terrible stroke. When he regained awareness he was afflicted with aphasia – loss of language – and could utter only a single syllable, “mem.” The standard therapies yielded little result but frustration. Diane soon found, however, that by harnessing their deep knowledge of each other, and her scientific understanding of language and the brain, she could guide Paul back to the world of words. This triumphant book is both a humane and revealing addition to the medical literature on stroke and aphasia and an exquisitely written love story: a magnificent addition to literature, period. As Antonio Damasio says, this is “Ackerman’s best writing and best book to date.”
Here is a story about hope and patience in the face of heartbreak, and of the triumph of love and creativity. One Hundred Names for Love – Ackerman’s most personal work of nonfiction yet – is a compassionate yet unsentimental portrait of a marriage; a work of poetic, lucid science writing; and a celebration of the written word and the wonders of language.
Diane Ackerman is the author, most recently, of Dawn Light and The Zookeeper’s Wife. She lives in Ithaca, New York, and Palm Beach, Florida.
Books & Books, Coral Gables
265 Aragon Avenue
Coral Gables, FL 33134