AfterImage: A Brokenhearted Memoir of a Charmed Life

Overview

The eye experiences an afterimage when a bright light is extinguished. But there are also afterimages of the heart, afterimages that remain imprinted well beyond the time a beloved has died. In this beautifully told memoir, Carla Malden shares her journey from the time of her husband’s cancer diagnosis through his death, to folding his absence into her life and carrying on.

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Overview

The eye experiences an afterimage when a bright light is extinguished. But there are also afterimages of the heart, afterimages that remain imprinted well beyond the time a beloved has died. In this beautifully told memoir, Carla Malden shares her journey from the time of her husband’s cancer diagnosis through his death, to folding his absence into her life and carrying on.

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Editorial Reviews

From the Publisher
“I've spent my professional life telling stories. AFTERIMAGE does exactly that and touches us where we live. It is compelling, moving, raw — with moments of surprising humor. I try to leave my audiences with meaningful and enduring images from my movies. That's exactly what Carla Malden achieves with her newest book.”  — Michael Douglas
 

“Carla Malden traces the awful journey of her young husband’s illness and death with such precision and care, expressing the emotion between the exhilaration of hope and the darkness of reality so powerfully, that her eloquence turns grief into poetry and enlightenment.”   — Blythe Danner

“Carla Malden’s memoir about her husband and screenwriting partner Laurence Starkman is a haunting story of love and loss, and a demonstration of the courage required to put a broken life together again.”    — Susan Cooper, author of The Dark is Rising

 

“All I can say is WOW!!! I read for a living which means I consume over 50 books a year just to prep for my show. Never has one made me cry until I read this manuscript. Although this is a book that will tug at your heart, it is like the tug on a fishing line when you know you’ve got a big one. I can’t wait to share it with others. I’d be honored to have author Carla Malden as a guest on my show. This is more than a book, it’s a blessing for anyone who reads it.”  —    Barry Kibrick, Producer and Host: Between the Lines

Emotionally raw from start to finish, the story . . . also celebrates a rare and profound love that transcended death. A brutally candid memoir of the ‘all-consuming and profoundly uncomplicated’ power of grief.”  —Kirkus Reviews

 

A searing account of how the author coped with her husband’s year-long struggle with colon cancer and his untimely death.

Screenwriter Malden—daughter of actor Karl Malden, with whom she wrote the memoir When Do I Start? (1997)—had been together with screenwriter Laurence Starkman from the time they were high-school students in the late 1960s. Certainly by Hollywood standards, their partnership had proven to be remarkable, and not just for its longevity, but for their deep connection. “We got each other in a way that we knew no one else ever would or could. Soul mates, they call it.” So when Starkman was diagnosed with colon cancer in 2006, Malden was devastated. The good—some would say “charmed”—life she had been leading with her beloved “best friend” had now turned permanently upside down. Without mincing words, the author chronicles her harsh awakening into the very human world of suffering. The day of Starkman's diagnosis, she unwillingly entered a “foreign land” in which “I [did] not speak the language.” Literacy was forced upon her through radical immersion in her husband’s unexpected health crisis. Bewildered, angry and frightened, she struggled to adjust to the demands of his metastasizing cancer, which included endless rounds of hospital visits, blood tests and chemotherapy and a fruitless search for balance and normalcy. Malden’s experiences with illness and the eventual bereavement it brought offered no glimpses into higher spiritual truths or God. For her, a universe in which cancer could strike down her vibrant husband was “random…capricious and nihilistic.” Emotionally raw from start to finish, the story makes for admittedly difficult reading. What saves it from sinking into pure melodrama are its fleeting moments of humor and the fact that it also celebrates a rare and profound love that transcended death.

A brutally candid memoir of the “all-consuming and profoundly uncomplicated” power of grief.

—-
Kirkus Reviews

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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780762780136
  • Publisher: Globe Pequot Press
  • Publication date: 8/7/2012
  • Pages: 320
  • Product dimensions: 5.00 (w) x 8.10 (h) x 0.90 (d)

Meet the Author

Carla Malden

Carla Malden has been a screenwriter and published author for over twenty years. With her father, Academy Award–winning actor Karl Malden, she coauthored his critically acclaimed memoir, When Do I Start?  

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Sort by: Showing all of 3 Customer Reviews
  • Posted May 11, 2011

    more from this reviewer

    A Life Changing Memoir!

    Probably one of the most difficult challenges to weather in this life is the loss of someone very close to you and even worse watching them battle for a win in their life against a disease that will ultimately claim them.

    In the novel After Image by Carla Malden, we get to share in her personal memoir of dealing with the loss of her husband Laurence to cancer at such an early age in their marriage. The story is so touching and real for me because I couldn't imagine a life without my husband in it and it was difficult for me to read Carla's words as she takes us through her journey of dealing with finding out her husband is diagnosed with cancer and the subsequent battle she faced in trying to beat it.

    Nothing can prepare the reader for Carla's words come through as though you are sitting with a close friend who is walking through her grief. We get to see "snapshots" of Laurence's life so we are getting to know both of them in the process. Carla's memoir is about as real as it comes for anyone who has ever dealt with grief or even facing the unknown turmoils and challenges that cancer can bring. From dealing with all the unknown's going through your mind as you try to search for an answer that may defeat cancer, to walking through the minutes and weeks of chemotherapy hoping against hope that no matter how positive you remain, in the back of your mind doubt and fear still peers it's ugly head.

    I received this book compliments of Pump Up Your Book for my honest review. This book rates a 5 out of 5 stars for me. It offers a different perspective of dealing with a loss of a loved one so great that you wonder if life will ever be the same again. The only thing that grieves me is one statement in the beginning of the book where the author quotes, "But cancer was the villain in our story, and while I emerged from this year with no glimpse of God, I began to wonder toward the end, if, in fact, the devil does indeed exist, and if we were not battling him mano a mano." (pg 3). I personally believe that God is present in everything we go through even though it appears that at that time, God was silent as this happened. You will definitely need a box of tissues to go along with this one. It grabs your heart and makes you really appreciate the time we have with the ones we love!

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  • Posted April 26, 2011

    Pacific Book Review

    Death is something we all will have to face at some point in our lives. Carla Malden, author of "AfterImage: A Brokenhearted Memoir of a Charmed Life," writes candidly about her husband's battle with cancer and how she has learned to cope with his death. She is also the co-author of her father's book, Academy Award winning actor Karl Malden, "When Do I Start?"

    Laurence Starkman has been in Carla's life ever since she was sixteen years old. They had a happy and loving relationship. Often many of Carla's close friends would either get a divorce or continuously complain about being married. Carla and Laurence were truly content with the loving quality and longevity of their marriage. Laurence was a very talented filmmaker, director, editor and screenwriter; essentially he was a Renaissance man. Carla and Laurence wrote screenplays together and had a successful career using their creative talents working well together as a team. Carla was more verbal and Laurence was more visual -- a magical system that worked for them. They also have a beautiful daughter, Cami, who is a gifted artist.

    Laurence had a history of ulcerative colitis starting around the age of twenty. He occasionally went to the hospital for procedures, but eventually he got better requiring fewer treatments. However, one day Laurence went for his routine colonoscopy which changed his life and everyone else's life in the Starkman's family forever. Laurence was diagnosed with cancer, and given the unfortunate bad news nobody wants to hear.

    Carla researched all the medical terms and everything available on cancer treatments. They made sure to have the best physicians in place to tackle this disease. Laurence needed surgery and underwent the operation. From the moment after his surgery, he felt very confident the doctors removed all of the cancer. He firmly believed the chemotherapy treatment would be a breeze, and he would emerge from the process cancer free.

    As time went on, Laurence eventually was in agonizing pain. Painkillers joined the mix of nerve desensitization medications which he had been using to comfort the neuropathy. His torment would simply not go away. He and Carla sought all pain remedies possible. At one point they bought a Zero Gravity chair, enabling him to occasionally doze off; but it really wasn't effective. Laurence visited the neurologist, urologist, and the pain management specialists regularly. The clinical treatments helped for only a few days at a time. The doctors ran multiple tests to find out why he continued to be in so much pain. They found three tiny nodules and a film around his liver. The oncologist told them he had three things to deal with: Pain management, diagnosis, and treatment. Surgery was not an option any longer, as they would need to look into other ways to treat Laurence.

    Along with traditional Western medicine, they tried everything possible to help cure Laurence of cancer including: Hypnotists, nutritionists, Chi Kung, Feng Shui, acupuncture, massage therapy, plus others alternative methods. Sometimes Laurence found relaxation with just a simple thing such as playing a Sudoku puzzle as being a comforting form of Zen, taking his mind off of his condition.

    Laurence and Carla were in this fight together and were virtually inseparable. They did everything together. This health issue was a completely foreign twist of circumstances for each of them...

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  • Anonymous

    Posted April 10, 2011

    No text was provided for this review.

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