Love, of a Kind is the seventh book of poetry put together by Felix Dennis. Dennis was diagnosed with throat cancer in January 2012. As a result of that diagnosis, he began bringing together and revising poems for what he believed to be his last book. The poems here run along the themes of pain, life, death, and love.
The author lived a fairly loud and extravagant life after a humble beginning. Dennis was born and lived a life of poverty in a south London suburb where he dealt with his father moving to Australia, his mother choosing not to follow, and their subsequent divorce in a time where divorces just did not happen. As a consequence of their divorce, Dennis’ mother chose to not let her previous failed marriage be a reason for her or her children to not succeed in life. Dennis’ career spanned from publisher to poet to spoken word performer to philanthropist. Never one to stray from the limelight, various interviews with Dennis can be found online.
After his diagnosis in 2012, Dennis created Love, of a Kind as a way to cope. Dennis pairs his poems with woodcut engravings that help pull readers more completely into his world. Read along and feel Dennis as he pours his feelings about love into the words that he chose to be his memory after his death in 2014.
A key to good readers advisory is to be able to remember titles and authors. One of my favorite audiobooks is I Remember Nothing by Nora Ephron. The problem is that I can never remember this title. Not only do I keep checking it out, thinking I haven’t listened to it before, I also fail to remember the title when I’m telling staff and patrons what a great Book-on-CD it is.
And it really is. Ephron read the book herself and she has a marvelous voice and impeccable timing. Particularly interesting, I thought, were the stories about her early career in newspaper and magazine journalism. She isn’t shy about dishing about the legendary writers and publishers she worked with, whose names I can’t recall (except for Katie and Phil Graham of the Washington Post).
She also has some handy tricks for social situations in which names (or whether you, in fact, really know a person) escape you.
Recommendation: check the box marked “Reading History” in your library account, and you’ll always have a record of what you’ve checked out.
This lovely jewel of a novel, set in Japan, explores the power of memory and how it shapes our lives, and how love and friendship can transcend hardship and loss.
The Professor is a brilliant mathematician, able to describe and demonstrate the most complex formulas into something simple and poetic and beautiful, but due to a traumatic head injury his short-term memory lasts only 80 minutes. The Professor spends his days in his study, working on difficult mathematics problems; everything before that fateful night in 1975 still clear and real to him, everything else more than 80 minutes old, new and confusing.
The Housekeeper, a struggling single mother, is assigned to care for him. Gradually they make a connection – the Professor pins multiple notes to his coat to help him cope with his handicap – and the Housekeeper’s young son often joins them. The Professor shares his love of numbers with them and joins the boy in his love of baseball. Together the three form an unconventional family.
Thoughtful, poignant and bittersweet, this spare, elegant novel will stay with you long after you’ve finished.
Alzheimer’s. It’s a disease most of us would rather not think about, much less read about. Still, I’ve just finished reading a lovely book entitled Measure of the Heart: A Father’s Alzheimer’s, A Daughter’s Return by Mary Ellen Geist. Perhaps I was drawn to it because my own mother had Alzheimer’s. Perhaps the black and white photo on the cover brought back memories of me walking with my mom. Still, I approached it with a degree of ambivalence. Did I really want to read this and risk drudging up a very sad time? Well, I’m glad I did. It was not at all depressing, but rather a touching and tender tribute, reinforcing my own experience that caring for our loved ones can be both and a blessing and a privilege.
As I watch the leaves fall to the ground, it seems appropriate that November is National Alzheimer’s Disease Month. If you’re interested in learning more about this affliction, I would recommend The 36-Hour Day by Nancy Mace and Peter Rabins, currently in its 4th edition. This is a virtual bible for caregivers, and one I relied upon heavily.
Another interesting read is Voices of Alzheimer’s, The Healing Companion: Stories for Courage, Comfort and Strength, a compilation of personal anecdotes and experiences, edited by The Healing Project.