Review by Laura Sanders
In this personal account of a stroke’s devastation on the brain, a nature writer chronicles her husband’s battle to recover his lost words.
One day, a clot lodged in the brain of Paul West, a professor, poet and novelist. The stroke left West, a man with a biting wit and a deep intellect, able to mutter only one syllable over and over: “Mem, mem, mem.”
Ackerman carries readers along as her husband confronts his aphasia. She describes the science — part neuroscience, part cognitive science and part intuition — of figuring out what was damaged in West’s brain and how to fix it. In one memorable scene, renowned neurologist Oliver Sacks, a friend of the family, comes to visit and coaxes West — who can barely speak — to sing “Happy Birthday” and “Jerusalem.”
On his road to recovery, West becom