Tangles: A Story about Alzheimer's, My Mother, and Me

Sarah Leavitt (Author)
Available

Product Details

Price
$14.95
Publisher
Skyhorse Publishing
Publish Date
May 01, 2012
Pages
128
Dimensions
9.1 X 10.4 X 0.5 inches | 1.5 pounds
Language
English
Type
Paperback
EAN/UPC
9781616086398

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About the Author

Sarah Leavitt is a curator at the National Building Museum in Washington, DC, and lives in Silver Spring, Maryland.

Reviews

Starred Review. The power of this graphic memoir is not that itsstory about a family dealing with Alzheimer s is so extraordinary, but that ithas become so ordinary. . . .The narrative is human, honest, loving andoccasionally even funny. . . Not simply the story of a disease, but of theflawed, complex, intelligent people whose lives it transformed.
Sarah Leavitt uses the medium of comics to tell her story with more economy and power than either words or pictures could muster by themselves. She brings a good eye for the telling detail--the small observations that reveal larger truths--to her memoir of a family in crisis. Tangles is the work of a perceptive, creative, and honest storyteller.
Says Leavitt, Our parents taught us, as very young children, that language, words, and books belonged to us, that they were exciting and powerful. Pairing words with simply drawn, evocative line art, Leavitt has crafted a glowing, heart-wrenching memorial to the woman who gave her such a gift. Useful for anyone with an Alzheimer 's patient among family or friends, for health-care professionals, and for graphic arts programs as an example of how simple art can tell a powerful story. So far, the only published Alzheimer s-related graphic novel and highly recommended.
Midge Leavitt begins showing symptoms of Alzheimer's in her mid-50s. Her handwriting starts to wobble, she loses herself in familiar parts of town, and strange, "blankety-blank" headaches shift around in her skull. Losing words and stories proves particularly debilitating for a woman who was once so enthused by them-with her husband, fellow teacher Rob, she "built a life of books and art and creativity." Leavitt responds in kind in this heartbreaking memoir, which follows her mother's gradual decline and her family's reaction to it. Her simple line drawings are rarely fascinating in themselves but they serve the story well, capturing facial expressions with subtle brevity and showing the subtext behind brave or cruel words as Leavitt's voice stretches from calm rationalizing to an anguished wail and back. Stark details-accounts of tidying up after a woman whose body is no longer her own and trying to communicate with a mother who can barely recognize her family-are married with warm, funny recollections of Jewish-Canadian life. --James Smart
The story has a definite place in the literature available to persons who have to deal with this terrible tragedy. The format (a graphic novel) is fresh and will appeal to the younger generation who are just beginning to come to grips with this crisis. Sarah describes very clearly many of the various problems that occur with each stage of the illness. She is very honest about her reactions and feelings as well as her attempts to cope with them. There are many lessons for others to learn but the biggest lesson is that it is OK to have reactions, feelings and frustrations that are not always "correct" as one watches a loved-one's progress. I think that the graphic novel tells the story in a more vivid and personal way than most books could possibly do... I know from my years of experience that the novel will be very helpful to others dealing with Alzheimer's. --E. Prather Palmer, MD, former Director, Alzheimer s Disease Clinic, Lahey Clinic, Burlington, Massachusetts
Says Leavitt, "Our parents taught us, as very young children, that language, words, and books belonged to us, that they were exciting and powerful." Pairing words with simply drawn, evocative line art, Leavitt has crafted a glowing, heart-wrenching memorial to the woman who gave her such a gift. Useful for anyone with an Alzheimer's patient among family or friends, for health-care professionals, and for graphic arts programs as an example of how simple art can tell a powerful story. So far, the only published Alzheimer's-related graphic novel--and highly recommended.
This is a really important book. I can t get it out of my head...we should all own a copy. --Rosalind Penfold, author of Dragonslippers
Midge Leavitt beginsshowing symptoms of Alzheimer's in her mid-50s. Her handwriting starts towobble, she loses herself in familiar parts of town, and strange,"blankety-blank" headaches shift around in her skull. Losing wordsand stories proves particularly debilitating for a woman who was once soenthused by them with her husband, fellow teacher Rob, she "built a lifeof books and art and creativity." Leavitt responds in kind in thisheartbreaking memoir, which follows her mother's gradual decline and herfamily's reaction to it. Her simple line drawings are rarely fascinating inthemselves but they serve the story well, capturing facial expressions withsubtle brevity and showing the subtext behind brave or cruel words as Leavitt'svoice stretches from calm rationalizing to an anguished wail and back. Starkdetails accounts of tidying up after a woman whose body is no longer her ownand trying to communicate with a mother who can barely recognize her family are married with warm, funny recollections of Jewish-Canadian life. --James Smart
[Leavitt s] drawings . . . put me in mind of Roz Chast . . . [her]skill, economy of line, and efficiency of vocabulary give you plotand interwoven characters, humor, pathos, comedy, and tragedyenough for 500 pages of prose. --Eleanor Cooney, author of Death in Slow Motion
The story has adefinite place in the literature available to persons who have to deal withthis terrible tragedy. The format (a graphic novel) is fresh and will appeal tothe younger generation who are just beginning tocome to gripswiththis crisis. Sarah describes very clearly many of the variousproblems that occur with each stage of the illness. She is very honest abouther reactions and feelings as well as her attempts to cope with them. There aremany lessons for others to learn but the biggest lesson is that it is OK to havereactions, feelingsand frustrations that are not always correct as onewatches a loved-one s progress. I think that the graphic novel tells the storyin a more vivid and personal way thanmost bookscould possibly do Iknow from my years of experience that the novel will be very helpful toothers dealing with Alzheimer s. --E. Prather Palmer, MD, former Director, Alzheimer s Disease Clinic, Lahey Clinic, Burlington, Massachusetts
An extraordinarilymoving and vivid account, in text and cartoon-style pictures, of the life anddeath of an Alzheimer s patient. --John Bayley, author of Elegy for Iris
SaysLeavitt, Our parentstaught us, as very young children, that language, words, and books belonged tous, that they were exciting and powerful. Pairing words with simply drawn, evocative line art, Leavitt has crafted a glowing, heart-wrenching memorial tothe woman who gave her such a gift. Useful for anyone with an Alzheimer spatient among family or friends, for health-care professionals, and for graphicarts programs as an example of how simple art can tell a powerful story. Sofar, the only published Alzheimer s-related graphic novel and highlyrecommended.
This is a really important book. I can't get it out of my head...we should all own a copy. --Rosalind Penfold, author of Dragonslippers
[Leavitt's] drawings . . . put me in mind of Roz Chast . . . [her] skill, economy of line, and efficiency of vocabulary give you plot and interwoven characters, humor, pathos, comedy, and tragedy enough for 500 pages of prose. --Eleanor Cooney, author of Death in Slow Motion
An extraordinarily moving and vivid account, in text and cartoon-style pictures, of the life and death of an Alzheimer's patient. --John Bayley, author of Elegy for Iris
The power of this graphic memoir is not that its story about a familydealing with Alzheimer s is so extraordinary, but that it has become soordinary.In her first book, Canadian writer and cartoonist Leavitt shows her motheragreeing to have her experiences with the disease documented because [m]aybethis will help other families! And likely it will, letting those experiencingthe dementia of someone they love know what to expect, and to reassure that thetangled emotions they feel in response anger, frustration, devotion, humor areinevitable.Though this is primarily an account of the author sexperiences as her mother becomes all but emotionally unrecognizable, it isalso a narrative spanning two three generations of complicated familydynamics.Leavitt illustrates significant differences between her mother scloseness with her sisters and how the disease affects those relationships, andthe contrasting tension between the author and her sister.It shows the strainsthat Alzheimer s puts on everything from the sufferer s well being and sense ofpurpose to a loving marriage to the physical demands of caring for someone whocan no longer care for herself.The narrative is human, honest, loving andoccasionally even funny. I created this book, Leavitt writes in theintroduction, to remember her as she was before she got sick, but also toremember her as she was during her illness, the ways in which she wastransformed and the ways in which parts of her endured. As my mother changed, Ichanged too, forced to reconsider my own identity as a daughter and as an adultand to recreate my relationship with my mother. Not simply the story of a disease, but of the flawed, complex, intelligentpeople whose lives it transformed.
Not only a spot-on portrait of the dark comedy and vast sadness that Alzheimer s contains, the book is a fitting tribute to Leavitt s mom. --Elissa Schappell, Vanity Fair
Beautiful detailed drawings capture perfectly the joy, frustration, sense of loss, humor, and poignancy of dealing with Alzheimer s.I welcome this book, as compelling, instructive, and yet enormouslycomforting too. --Lesley Fairfield, author of Tyranny
Tangles is simply a fine and touching book. As the rateof Alzheimer s continues to increase as the population ages, Tanglesjoins Jeffrey Moore s novel The Memory Artists and Sarah Polley s filmAway from Her at the head of a list of illuminating and much-neededartistic responses. --Ian McGillis