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One Hundred Names for Love: A Stroke, a Marriage, and the Language of Healing

por Diane Ackerman

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3041185,137 (4.07)19
Ackerman chronicles her novelist husband Paul West's heroic battle to reclaim words and mobility and her tailoring of West's speech therapy to match his spectacular vocabulary and unique intelligence.
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I may not be the most objective reviewer because I do love a good word salad and I got my fill with this one. Some of the criticisms are indeed valid: she does matter on about the words themselves, the cuddling, and Paul’s love of nudity. The one hundred words of love were cute, outrageous and sometimes de trop. In spite of all that, I enjoyed the book, not only for the love of words, but for the portrait of the stressors of caregivers, and the astonishing world of the stroke victim from his point of view. ( )
  PattyLee | Dec 14, 2021 |
This book is another advance reader edition that has apparently been sitting on my TBR shelf since its publication year of 2011 - and was a rather timely read for me.

In 2003, author Diane Ackerman's husband, the author Paul West, suffered a stroke that left him with aphasia, which affects the ability to express and understand written and spoken language. For a couple that made their livings writing and whose recreation included a lot of word play, this was especially devastating.

In lyrical prose, Ackerman writes about the next four years, Paul's rehabilitation and her feelings and concerns as a caregiver. Remarkably, he even regains the ability to write and publish again, and lived to age 85, dying of pneumonia about 12 years after the stroke occurred.

Extremely valuable was a postscript with "Some Lessons Learned." As my elderly mother suffers from a form of neurological deterioration that makes it difficult for her to speak, I really appreciated this. Ackerman had just finished writing An Alchemy of Mind: The Marvel and Mystery of the Brain before the stroke, The knowledge she gained in her research for that nonfiction book helped her come up with some creative ways to help her husband. The tips she provides are the reason I will be hanging on to the advance reader edition for personal future use, rather than passing it on.

Ackerman also provides a long list of further reading, as well as the 100 nicknames for her that Paul came up with after his stroke, a word play they were able to resurrect.

This book was a finalist for both a Pulitzer Prize and a National Book Critics Circle Award in 2012.

© Amanda Pape - 2018

[I will be hanging on to this advance reader edition for a while.] ( )
1 vote riofriotex | May 27, 2018 |
Highly acclaimed author Diane Ackerman has written many books about a wide variety of subjects, from science to poetry to gardening. She had just finished a book about the workings of the brain An Alchemy of Mind when, as fate would have it, her husband, also a very prolific author and wordsmith, suffered a massive stroke that left him aphasic. Aphasia is the loss of language, of the ability to speak, sometimes also the ability to read and write or even understand language. Devastating for any one of us to imagine, but for 2 people whose very lives revolve around words and language - hard to think of a worse fate.

This book is her chronicle of his rehabilitation, her own struggles as his primary caregiver and the creativity and energy she called on to help him recover. There is no *cure* for stroke but there is a lot of valuable insight, knowledge and work here for anyone who has been - or might one day have to be - faced with the daunting task of being a caregiver in such a situation. Ackerman draws on her own knowledge of the brain, and uses language that is readable and understandable to the lay reader, to explain the hows and whys and where (to the extent that we know these things) the brain processes and stores language, and habits and even movement. As a teacher of kids with brain injuries and language disorders, this covered a lot of areas of particular interest to me but also, I can see this book as being a valuable resource and roadmap for the medical profession and caregivers; and also, a source of hope and encouragement to think outside the box when it comes to tailoring a rehab program to fit the patient. One of Ackerman's main messages in this book, arrived at perhaps more by chance than design, was to focus on the interests of the patient, to appeal to what most excites them in order to get them actively participating in regaining their language and engaging in communication.


If you scroll down a bit, there are 2 short videos with Diane and Paul, talking about the stroke.

I was surprised to learn that the stroke happened in 2003. The book was published in 2011. He died in 2015, of pneumonia, at age 85, a full 12 years after it happened.

This was really an excellent read. ( )
  jessibud2 | Jan 28, 2017 |
This is another of those books that show us how the brain works or doesn't. I found it fascinating what this man of words could recall and what he couldn't call to mind. It is a wonderful story of love and courage as this couple fight to overcome his deficits after a stroke. Diane Ackerman is a wonderful writer. She has a gift with language. I highly recommend this one.

My Stroke of Insight is another look at the effects of stroke. This one by a neurologist who suffered a stroke. ( )
  njcur | Feb 13, 2014 |
this would be great before someone had a stroke because it is sort of optomistic but also emphasises how difficult recovery is from aphasia. After the stroke you're too stressed and busy to read it. I found her reporting on the brain helpful in itself for other issues like talking to oneself.
  ammurphy | May 16, 2013 |
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Ackerman chronicles her novelist husband Paul West's heroic battle to reclaim words and mobility and her tailoring of West's speech therapy to match his spectacular vocabulary and unique intelligence.

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