Posts Tagged ‘2016

14
Jan
20

Aliceheimer’s: Alzheimer’s Through the Looking Glass

Aliceheimer’s: Alzheimer’s Through the Looking Glass by Dana Walrath.

Published by Pennsylvania State University Press, 2016.

Paperback.

Dana Walrath is an anthropologist, artist, and writer. This book tells of her relationship with her mother Alice though the lens of Alzheimer’s. You can see some of the illustrations and read the text on her website as linked above.

Publisher’s blurb:

“Alice was always beautiful—Armenian immigrant beautiful, with thick, curly black hair, olive skin, and big dark eyes,” writes Dana Walrath. Alice also has Alzheimer’s, and while she can remember all the songs from The Music Man, she can no longer attend to the basics of caring for herself. Alice moves to live with her daughter, Dana, in Vermont, and the story begins.

Aliceheimer’s is a series of illustrated vignettes, daily glimpses into their world with Alzheimer’s. Walrath’s time with her mother was marked by humor and clarity: “With a community of help that included pirates, good neighbors, a cast of characters from space-time travel, and my dead father hovering in the branches of the maple trees that surround our Vermont farmhouse, Aliceheimer’s let us write our own story daily—a story that, in turn, helps rewrite the dominant medical narrative of aging.”

In drawing Alice, Walrath literally enrobes her with cut-up pages from Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland. She weaves elements from Lewis Carroll’s classic throughout her text, using evocative phrases from the novel to introduce the vignettes, such as “Disappearing Alice,” “Missing Pieces,” “Falling Slowly,” “Curiouser and Curiouser,” and “A Mad Tea Party.”

Walrath writes that creating this book allowed her not only to process her grief over her mother’s dementia, but also “to remember the magic laughter of that time.” Graphic medicine, she writes, “lets us better understand those who are hurting, feel their stories, and redraw and renegotiate those social boundaries. Most of all, it gives us a way to heal and to fly over the world as Alice does.” In the end, Aliceheimer’s is indeed strangely and utterly uplifting.

 

Part of the Graphic Medicine series: Dr. Ian Williams, the editor of ‘Graphic Medicine‘ says:

It has long been known that comics are “not just for kids”. Over the past decade this underrated medium has begun to receive recognition and acclaim from literary critics, academics, and broadsheet reviewers. This renaissance is partly due to the rise in popularity of the graphic novel. In contrast to production line, genre based, mainstream comics, graphic novels are full length, square bound “serious” comic books, aimed at adults, usually written and illustrated by one person, thus encapsulating the style, narrative and subjective worldview of an individual. Often drawing on direct experience, the author builds a world into which the reader is drawn. Amongst the growing number of autobiographical works, titles dealing directly with the patient experience of illness or caring for others with an illness are to be found.

…and references the BMJ: Graphic medicine: use of comics in medical education and patient care.

 

I really wasn’t sure what to think about this one, until it arrived. It’s incredibly beautiful and moving, funny and sad. The pictures remind me of an exhibition some time ago at The Wellcome gallery which showcased Bobby Baker‘s watercolours documenting her living with mental illness- they’re equally honest, searing and poignant.

Available on Amazon.

 

 

 

 

27
Dec
17

Alice in Space

9780226041506Alice in Space: The Sideways Victorian World of Lewis Carroll by Gillian Beer.

Published by University of Chicago Press (29 Nov. 2016)
ISBN-10: 0226041506
ISBN-13: 978-0226041506
Hardback with dustjacket.

From the publisher:

In Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland and Through the Looking-Glass, Lewis Carroll created fantastic worlds that continue to delight and trouble readers of all ages today. Few consider, however, that Carroll conceived his Alice books during the 1860s, a moment of intense intellectual upheaval, as new scientific, linguistic, educational, and mathematical ideas flourished around him and far beyond. Alice in Space reveals the contexts within which the Alice books first lived, bringing back the zest to jokes lost over time and poignancy to hidden references.

Gillian Beer explores Carroll’s work through the speculative gaze of Alice, for whom no authority is unquestioned and everything can speak. Parody and Punch, evolutionary debates, philosophical dialogues, educational works for children, math and logic, manners and rituals, dream theory and childhood studies—all fueled the fireworks. While much has been written about Carroll’s biography and his influence on children’s literature, Beer convincingly shows him at play in the spaces of Victorian cultural and intellectual life, drawing on then-current controversies, reading prodigiously across many fields, and writing on multiple levels to please both children and adults in different ways.

With a welcome combination of learning and lightness, Beer reminds us that Carroll’s books are essentially about curiosity, its risks and pleasures. Along the way, Alice in Space shares Alice’s exceptional ability to spark curiosity in us, too.

Many thanks to Stuart, Andrea and Owen for getting me this one. Available on Amazon.




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