NBCC nonfiction award finalist Diane Ackerman’s pick for the NBCC Good Reads Spring 2008 list, recommendations by NBCC members, awards winners and finalists (she wrote the introduction to the book she recommends):
THE SHADOW FACTORY, by Paul West, Lumen Books, Santa Fe.
Prose maestro Paul West, the author of twenty-two books of fiction and seventeen of nonfiction, sad to say, was struck down by a stroke in June 2004, and is still receiving treatment for Broca’s Aphasia. He cannot do mathematics or clocks, and he has only three hours of fluency a day, after which language escapes him.
Fortunately, by some miracle, and through superhuman tenacity, he has written a book about his experiences, including the humor, tragedy, and successes of regaining speech. The language is golden, as of old; the humor is infectious and ribald; and the prose style on show is very much his own.
In short, this work from a writer who refused what fate handed out to him, is a unique document and extraordinary. Nothing like it exists in the annals of medicine or literature. It’s a fascinating, account, both heartbreaking and uplifting, a powerfully moving book.—Diane Ackerman