- Tapa dura
- Editor: Farrar Straus & Giroux (1 de octubre de 1994)
- Idioma: Inglés
- ISBN-10: 0374254281
- ISBN-13: 978-0374254285
- Valoración media de los clientes: Sé el primero en opinar sobre este producto
Scar Tissue (Inglés) Tapa dura – 1 oct 1994
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Chronicles one woman's descent into Alzheimer's disease and her sons' painful witness to the tragedy, which is enhanced by their careers in philosophy and neurology and by strengthened family bonds
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Two brothers, different, and at odds with each other must come to terms with their mother's dementia and father's death. The younger, the protagonist, lives near, visits and cares for his deteriorating mother obsessively neglecting his wife and children while holding on to his teaching job. The effort to understanding the unravelling of his mother's mind and personality runs alongside a personal exploration. He is a philosopher, he has to make sense of everything that happens, rather than living life, as his quiet wife recommends. His brother, a neuropathologist, visits infrequently and apparently dispassionately. He understands from xrays, position emission topography, DNA samples what is happening neurologically, and why. Our protagonist finds his remote, almost uncaring, while he himself tenderly cares, bathes, feeds his invalid mother trying to maintain her vestiges of memory and meaning. When the father dies, the home must be sold so that the mother can go into residential care, but the son visits daily, lengthily, continuing to study what is happening to her mentally.
It is only when the brothers are together at the elder's laboratory, and then to his patients, that his humanity, care and efforts to ease his patients' suffering become evident. His own philosophy surfaces to challenge his philosopher brother's: is it ethical to provide a breathing tube for communication when each moment of its use shortens life? Painfully, effortfully, the patient himself opens the philosopher's eyes to what matters most to him: consciousness, awareness.
The younger brother returns home, already now separated from wife and children, to examine every detail of his mother's knowingness and awareness. Does she attach any meaning to her memories; does she know him? The outcome of the plot is known from the first chapter yet the narrative is compelling. I had planned to pass on the novel to another keen reader after reading, but the depth of philosophical discussion means I cannot part with the book. The brothers take their mother to the cinema but after the first panning shot she wants to go home, she finds it disturbing. The older brother explains, 'She sits in the movie theatre of her own mind and she doesn't know what these images are or what her relation to them is supposed to be.'
The son constantly recalls childhood episodes throughout the narrative, relating them to his current experiences. When he experiments by giving his mother paper and pencil she can still draw proficiently, but has it meaning? Can there be Art without an artist? Buying the novel was worth it even for the discussion of this aspect alone.
Not for the lover of fast-moving action, but this novel leaves scar tissue of its own.
The principal story is of family the narrator grew up in. The secondary story is of his own family, his wife and children. The connection is not made so directly, but clearly the breakdown of one family, the illness of the mother and the son narrator's intense devotion to her, lead to the breakdown of the second family, his leaving his wife and two children.
The book also tells the story of two other major characters, the narrator's father and brother. The father a Russian immigrant to America , and the lesser loved parent dies in the course of the mother's illness. The presentation of the lives of the parents, and the relations between them is done in a strong and convincing way. Here again the writer blends present experience and memory in a most effective way.
Also the story of the two brothers is important in relating to a fundamental philosophical theme of the work ie the true meaning of self and identity. The physician brother provides hard scientific insight which of course does not solve the mystery of the mother's mental deterioration, but provides nonetheless a path for understanding it.
The book again is written clearly and is a fluent and gripping read.
My reservations are a bit on the ethical side. The son's seeming lack of attention to his own children in his obsessive care for his mother is to my mind a major fault. Despite the authenticity of the relationships depicted I found myself a bit reserved in feeling , perhaps at my own failure to deeply like , or sympathize with the suffering parents, main characters.
Yet I think my reservations are unimportant here. This book is especially strong in depicting the complexity of family relations, the painful difficulties of real familial relationships.
It too, when it comes down to it, seems to me to succeed as a kind of 'love story' as one in which the narrator- son does display a tremendous devotion and love to his mother.
A humane and again beautifully written book. Very highly recommended.