When her once-glamorous and witty novelist-mother got Alzheimer's, Eleanor Cooney moved her from her beloved Connecticut home to California in order to care for her. In tense, searing prose, punctuated with the blackest of humor, Cooney documents the slow erosion of her mother's mind, the powerful bond the two shared, and her own descent into drink and despair.
But the coping mechanism that finally serves this eloquent writer best is writing, the ability to bring to vivid life the memories her mother is losing. As her mother gropes in the gathering darkness for a grip on the world she once loved, succeeding only in conjuring sad fantasies of places and times with her late husband, Cooney revisits their true past. Death in Slow Motion becomes the mesmerizing story of Eleanor's actual childhood, straight out of the pages of John Cheever; the daring and vibrant mother she remembers; and a time that no longer exists for either of them.
About the Author
Eleanor Cooney has published four novels. She lives in Mendocino, California.
Table of Contents
|1||God Is a Murderer||1|
|2||The Serpent's Tooth||12|
|4||The Belly of the Beast||37|
|5||Heart of Glass||49|
|6||The Big Bang||62|
|7||Wicked, Wicked Ways||72|
|11||Shiva, the Destroyer||129|
|15||Cry Me a River||179|
|16||Sunset, Children ...||199|
|Epilogue: The Hotel California||223|
What People are Saying About This
“A strong and honest book.”
Reading Group Guide
IntroductionLike so many Americans whose parents have Alzheimer's, Eleanor Cooney approached her mother's disease with a combination of fear and hopeful plans. Recording the transformation of the two women, both of them talented writers, Death in Slow Motion raises compelling questions about the elusive dance between wisdom and memory, and between wit and words. As Eleanor becomes the 24-hour caregiver for her mother, this unique memoir also speaks to the issue nearly everyone must confront at some point: how to honor our aging parents in the face of emotional and physical exhaustion. Geography is Eleanor's first challenge; she and her mother, novelist Mary Durant, had lived thousands of miles apart for years. She decides to move Mary from Connecticut to California, settling her in a cheerful ocean-view apartment just minutes from Eleanor's house. But it is soon apparent that Mary isn't well enough to live on her own at all, and before long she is part of her daughter's household. As months pass, Eleanor begins to realize the maddening limitations of the medical specialists, nursing homes, and insurance companies she had woven into her mother's safety net. Stress and sleep deprivation take their toll, quickly eroding the powerful bond mother and daughter had always shared and endangering Eleanor's relationship with Mitch, her mate of many years. Yet while Mary's mind churns out anxious (and invented) memories, Eleanor revisits her Cheeveresque childhood and finds a new understanding of her roots as a woman of letters. Unflinching and laced with dark humor, Death in Slow Motion charts a new course through the murky path of dementia. For thisauthor, its destination is the ultimate unknown. We hope that the following lines of inquiry will enhance your discussion of her eloquently recounted journey. Topics for Discussion