The University of Wisconsin Press
Gay & Lesbian Interest / Memoir / Death & Bereavement
Excerpts From a Family Medical Dictionary
"Rebecca Brown's prose is like Shaker furniture: simple, strong, and useful, in the most beautiful sense. She writes here of loss and love with as much truth as necessary and far more poetry."
—Amy Bloom, author of Come to Me
Excerpts from a Family Medical Dictionary is an intimate, exquisite, and true account of what it is to help a parent die. After her mother was diagnosed with terminal cancer, former home care worker and award-winning writer Rebecca Brown cared for her mother during the last six months of her life. This spare, unsentimental book comes out of that experience. In short chapters headed by definitions of medical terms, she confronts anemia, chemotherapy, metastasis, cremation. Brown's is a poignant and unflinching story of how one family coped with loss and learned about the longevity of love.
“Brown conveys an intimate account of her mother's illness during her last months of life, detailing the raw experience of suffering with an unadorned simplicity of tone and voice. Such a chronicle pays homage to the deceased and provides a model for the living as they struggle with a loved one's illness and their grief. This book, which can be read in 3 hours, would inform health-care students and professionals, as well as a general readership. . . . It is a lovingly written book with many outstanding passages. . . . The writer's reliability, truthfulness and authentic voice allow readers to establish faith in her as a guide through one of life's most difficult experiences. Brown's book proves that illness narratives have the potential to accurately inform readers about the course of illness and the manifold roles and tasks of the patient, family members and health care providers as they navigate their way from life to death.”—Canadian Medical Association Journal
Rebecca Brown is the author of seven novels, including The End of Youth, The Terrible Girls, and What Keeps Me Here, and her short stories are widely anthologized. Her novel The Gifts of the Body won a Lambda Literary Award and has been translated into several languages. Brown divides her time between Seattle and Vermont, where she is a faculty member in the Master of Fine Arts program at Goddard College.
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LC: 2003005653 RC
128 pp. 6 1/2 x 10 1/2
Cloth $19.95 t
"Excerpts from a Family Medical Dictionary is by someone who is (and should not be) the great secret of American letters, Rebecca Brown. [It is] what great books should be: relevant, urgent, honest, true."
—Dale Peck, Interview
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