The Preface

As I recently mentioned the preface to the novel I Hate The Internet (though, yes, Kobek does call it a “note”), here’s another good one (and tellingly on the same subject) from Doug Stanhope’s book Digging Up Mother: A Love Story.

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Towards the end of Stanhope’s book, when he writes about his mother’s last few hours, it resonated with a book I read last summer: Atul Gawande’s Being Mortal.  Both books deal with the death of a parent: a mother in Stanhope’s case; a father in Gawande’s. They deal with it very differently mind you.

And though I say Stanhope’s account is excellent, timely, and necessary, so as to push against any chance of a narrative forming about how you should deal with, or react to, death and dying; this doesn’t mean I think it’s any better, or preferable to, Gawande’s account, or the way Gawande deals with his father’s death – no one knows how, when the time comes, just how they will react: as Stanhope acknowledges, ‘maybe we’re just different.’

But what comes across in both books – the best way I can describe it – is the trust that is established, in the end, between the person living and the one dying. That’s not a trust the books suggest, by any means, is easily won or everyone will achieve. But Stanhope and Gawande at least give us a chance to see it exists, and that it might be achievable to the extent our different situations and circumstances allow.

 

Reading: Either Side of Winter, Benjamin Markovits

 

Recommended

As I was recommended this so I’m passing that recommendation on. A great book. I couldn’t pick out just one interesting part to quote as there were too many. But do read it if you are interested in the topic (and maybe look it up even if you’re not).