Phantom Limb

( 1 )

Overview

"Phantom Limb is a memoir for those who have experienced the final difficult years of a parent's life. Janet Sternburg's mother lost her leg yet continued to feel the limb as though it were still present. Setting out to learn more about this mysterious condition, Sternburg encounters new ideas about the relationship of mind to body. She also finds a sense of freedom and depth of caring that continue after her parents have died." Sternburg suggests that we all have phantom limbs - someone no longer with us who remains a part of us. She writes ...
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Overview

"Phantom Limb is a memoir for those who have experienced the final difficult years of a parent's life. Janet Sternburg's mother lost her leg yet continued to feel the limb as though it were still present. Setting out to learn more about this mysterious condition, Sternburg encounters new ideas about the relationship of mind to body. She also finds a sense of freedom and depth of caring that continue after her parents have died." Sternburg suggests that we all have phantom limbs - someone no longer with us who remains a part of us. She writes about this paradox with such warmth and transformative imagination that the loss itself becomes luminous. At once a deeply moving chronicle of discovering love through adversity, an inquiry into what contemporary neurology has to teach us, and a meditation on the inexplicable suffering life sometimes brings, Phantom Limb links us all in the struggle to make peace with physical and emotional ghosts of the past.
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Editorial Reviews

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
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.
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780803242968
  • Publisher: University of Nebraska Press
  • Publication date: 4/28/2002
  • Series: American Lives Series
  • Pages: 148
  • Product dimensions: 6.68 (w) x 8.14 (h) x 0.69 (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.
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Sort by: Showing 1 Customer Reviews
  • Anonymous

    Posted July 11, 2002

    A wonderful accomplishment and labor of love

    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.

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