Memory's Last Breath: Field Notes on My Dementia

Memory's Last Breath: Field Notes on My Dementia

by Gerda Saunders
Memory's Last Breath: Field Notes on My Dementia

Memory's Last Breath: Field Notes on My Dementia

by Gerda Saunders


    Qualifies for Free Shipping
    Usually ships within 6 days
    Check Availability at Nearby Stores

Related collections and offers


A "courageous and singular book" (Andrew Solomon), Memory's Last Breath is an unsparing, beautifully written memoir — "an intimate, revealing account of living with dementia" (Shelf Awareness).

Based on the "field notes" she keeps in her journal, Memory's Last Breath is Gerda Saunders' astonishing window into a life distorted by dementia. She writes about shopping trips cut short by unintentional shoplifting, car journeys derailed when she loses her bearings, and the embarrassment of forgetting what she has just said to a room of colleagues. Coping with the complications of losing short-term memory, Saunders, a former university professor, nonetheless embarks on a personal investigation of the brain and its mysteries, examining science and literature, and immersing herself in vivid memories of her childhood in South Africa. "For anyone facing dementia, [Saunders'] words are truly enlightening . . . Inspiring lessons about living and thriving with dementia." — Maria Shriver, NBC's Today Show

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9780316502627
Publisher: Hachette Books
Publication date: 06/13/2017
Pages: 288
Product dimensions: 5.80(w) x 8.30(h) x 1.00(d)

About the Author

Gerda Saunders emigrated to the United States from South Africa in 1984. In 1996 she received a PhD in English from the University of Utah, where she later served as associate director of the Gender Studies Program. Saunders is the author of the short story collection Blessings on the Sheep Dog. She has spoken with the BBC and The Huffington Post about living with dementia, and is the subject of a series of short films being produced by VideoWest and featured on Slate.

Table of Contents

Authors Note ix

Chapter 1 Telling Who I Am before I Forget 1

Chapter 2 Quantum Puff Adders and Fractional Memories 14

Chapter 3 The Grammar of the Disappearing Self 47

Chapter 4 This Is Your Brain on the Fritz 74

Chapter 5 Of Madness and Love I 120

Chapter 6 Of Madness and Love II 158

Chapter 7 Makeovers in Extremis 182

Chapter 8 The Exit That Dare Not Say Its Name 211

Acknowledgments 257

Notes 259

What People are Saying About This

author of The Bishop's Daughter - Honor Moore

“Navigating the onset of her own dementia with intelligence and charm, Gerda Saunders has written an engaging mélange of reflection, family history and quest. MEMORY’S LAST BREATH is a surprising and subtly triumphant contribution to the literature of recollection.”

author of The Good Death for Beacon - Ann Neumann

"Gerda Saunders' MEMORY'S LAST BREATH is not only a how-to manual for navigating the emotional and physiological terrain of dementia—an illness that effects the daily lives and hopes of millions—but a highly compelling account of the life of the mind, its developments, repetitions, omissions, and flourishes. Through eloquent, unwavering prose, Saunders guides us through the horrors and humors of an illness that is slowly erasing her mental and physical memory; her insights are lessons in longevity. Above all things, MEMORY'S LAST BREATH is indelible—a testament to the capacity of language both in a writer's life and a reader's."

National Book Award-winning author of The Noonday Demon and Far from the Tree - Andrew Solomon

"This courageous and singular book describes both the indignities inscribed in the erosion of memory and the surprising grace to be found in that experience. At once observer and subject, Gerda Saunders demonstrates how a powerful intellect can remain undiminished even as other mental capacities are compromised. Her book's lessons in dignity will be invaluable to anyone facing the complex meanings of dementia."

Dr., Director of the SAGE Center for the Study of Mind at the University of California, Santa Barbara, and author of Tal - Michael Gazzaniga

“The abrupt loss of everyday memory due to brain injury is swiftly and seriously unsettling. Its slower, subtle decline, the hallmark of dementia, provides time for introspection on its troubling trajectory. Gerda Saunders has given us a window into that chilling, yet poignant, psychological reality. MEMORY’S LAST BREATH is personal, lucid, and inspiring.”

From the B&N Reads Blog

Customer Reviews