Phantom Limb

Phantom Limb

5.0 1
by Janet Sternburg
     
 

View All Available Formats & Editions

Phantom Limb is a wise and courageous memoir that moves between past and present, chronicling an adult daughter’s journey through the final years of her parents’ lives. A story of discovering love through adversity as well as an inquiry into contemporary neurology and spiritual life, Phantom Limb is a moving meditation on the struggle to make

Overview

Phantom Limb is a wise and courageous memoir that moves between past and present, chronicling an adult daughter’s journey through the final years of her parents’ lives. A story of discovering love through adversity as well as an inquiry into contemporary neurology and spiritual life, Phantom Limb is a moving meditation on the struggle to make peace with physical and emotional ghosts of the past. Janet Sternburg writes with such warmth and honesty that loss itself becomes luminous: “This is the grace of the last years, the children coming to understand the contradictions in their parents, not to reconcile them but encompass them in a larger love.”

Editorial Reviews

Library Journal
This is a memoir for anyone who has suffered a significant loss or nursed an aging parent through a long-term illness. Sternburg's mother's leg was amputated yet she continued to feel as if the limb were present; here, the "phantom limb" becomes a metaphor for loss. The author, a poet, essayist, and visual artist, sought to learn more about her mother's condition through consultation with neurologists and a proactive response to her mother's healthcare. The author, who lives in California, was the primary guardian for her Boston-based mother. She arranged to be home by 5 p.m. everyday to talk with her mother and realized her good fortune in being able to fly to her mother's side whenever she was needed. Although she found an excellent domiciliary for her mother, her feelings remained ambiguous as she sought to find the peace with her own physical and emotional ghosts that sitting with her mother could bring. Alternately compassionate, painful, and joyful, this work is recommended for public libraries, particularly those with an aging populace and large self-help and memoir collections. Pam Kingsbury, Florence, AL Copyright 2002 Cahners Business Information.
Kirkus Reviews
For writer and editor Sternburg (The Writer on Her Work, 1991, etc.), her mother's pain following an amputation evokes luminously detailed recollections of other painful experiences as well as moments of consoling happiness. Describing her own experience coping with aging and ailing parents, the author realizes her feelings of frustration, sorrow, and anger are shared by countless others: "All over America, adults are screaming . . . its grown children trying not to be heard." Moving back and forth between her home in Los Angeles and her parents' in Boston as she responds to their increasing health crises, she also recalls her childhood. Her father was a volatile man, quick to anger when her mother reproached him for driving recklessly, but equally given to sending large valentines or crooning love songs to his wife. Sternburg fondly recalls early-morning visits to Boston's meat market with him before his grocery business failed. Then her father became a taxi driver: "in the cab he could be his own man." After he retired, he suffered a succession of strokes that eventually killed him. Her mother, a fastidious, beautiful, and cultured woman who spent her life trying to make the best of things, suffered from circulatory problems that eventually required one leg to be amputated beneath the knee. Not only was her mobility seriously affected, but she experienced the notorious phantom-limb pain: "a corn I had on my little toe is killing me," she tells her daughter at one point. Sternburg's mother lived in the shadow of mental illness (one sister committed suicide, a brother was lobotomized), but she remained plucky even when she had to leave her apartment and move into a nursing home. Theauthor movingly recalls her great sense of bereavement after her mother died, the loss of treasured rituals of association-phone calls, conversations about new curtains or a picture-as well as the beloved person. An affecting if at times rather elliptical record of a daughter's love and grief.
Manoa-The Mystified Boat

"A subtle, thought-filled meditation on loss. . . . Sternberg's prose is powered by imagistic accuracy and psychological immediacy—two horses that lesser writers let run wild. She holds their reins in a firm hand, and gently guides this book with intelligence and humility. . . . This is a book for anyone not afraid to look."—Liana Holmberg, Manoa-The Mystified Boat

— Liana Holmberg

Jewish Exponent
“Sternburg is so skillful, so acute in her descriptions and so filled with a useful sense of the absurd that the painful becomes transformative.”—Jewish Exponent
The Bloomsbury Review
“A mosaic of understanding, reconciliation, and ultimately acceptance.”—The Bloomsbury Review
The Jewish Week
“Sternburg accomplishes in a phrase what usually takes pages, even books, to describe. . . . [She] moves from resistance to profound love; her memoir honors the challenges of being a care-taker.”—The Jewish Week
The Orange County Register
“[Sternburg is] every one of us who has cared for aging parents. . . . She has faced the crucial questions: What do we owe to our parents? What do we owe to ourselves?"—The Orange County Register
Los Angeles Times Book Review
“A phantom limb is flesh become memory. . . . Sternburg uses the phenomenon as a metaphor for the loss of our loved ones, who remain intimately with us even after they’re gone.”—Los Angeles Times Book Review
Manoa-The Mystified Boat - Liana Holmberg
"A subtle, thought-filled meditation on loss. . . . Sternberg's prose is powered by imagistic accuracy and psychological immediacy—two horses that lesser writers let run wild. She holds their reins in a firm hand, and gently guides this book with intelligence and humility. . . . This is a book for anyone not afraid to look."—Liana Holmberg, Manoa-The Mystified Boat

Product Details

ISBN-13:
9780803293014
Publisher:
University of Nebraska Press
Publication date:
09/28/2003
Series:
American Lives Series
Pages:
148
Product dimensions:
6.00(w) x 8.38(h) x 0.35(d)

Meet the Author

Janet Sternburg is a widely published poet and essayist whose books include The Writer on Her Work. A faculty member of the California Institute for the Arts, she is also a photographer whose work appears in private and museum collections.

Customer Reviews

Average Review:

Write a Review

and post it to your social network

     

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

See all customer reviews >

Phantom Limb 5 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 1 reviews.
Guest More than 1 year ago
I read Janet Sternburg's Phantom Limb cover to cover last evening ... I was spellbound! What a beautiful an moving book ... it brought tears to my eyes as I remembered the lst few years of my mother's life ... she wanted me to sit by her bed and read the classics to her ... I wouldn't trade those loving,close moments for anything.