I start a lot of books. My bedside table is an overcrowded space and my unread, half-read pile now extends onto my dressing table, down the hall, into my study and out into the lounge. It's the repeating motif of our flat; every single room/living space has its selection of books- novels in the bedroom, Vanity Fair in the toilet, life writing/creative writing texts in the hallway, Shiv's phd-related stuff in my office, Fran's phd-related stuff in her office, a mix of literature, art, photography, non-fiction, Yiddish writings, and lots more besides in the living room. In the shop, I get excited when new orders come in, tear open the boxes, pull out the contents, pore over a few pages...take the 'worthy' ones home and add to the pile. Those that command my attention from start to finish are few. When I happen upon one that I really can't put down, I read through the night, every night until it's finished and when I turn the last page I feel saddened, like I'm losing a good friend. I can think of several books that have stayed with me, lingered on, long after I turned that last page: The Camerons by Robert Crichton, The Furies by Janet Hobhouse, The Mandarins by Simone de Beauvoir- and now I add a new best read: You Are Not Like Other Mothers by Angelika Schrobsdorff. The subject - - an assimilated German Jewish family's struggles during the Holocaust- is a familiar one. My phd, which I am now finally in the stages of writing up, focuses on Holocaust memory in elderly Lithuanian survivors. I am all Holocausted out... and yet... this book re-awakened the 'reader' in me. Is it because the mother of the title is like my own, who also was not like other mothers, or because it is written so beautifully, so lyrically and yet captures fear, anguish, guilt in such an agonizingly truthful way? Because its approach is unique? It vacillates between first and third peson. Because it has a lovely cover? Yes, I can be swayed by style over substance. Because it landed in my lap at the right time? Possibly all of these. What I can say is that I loved, loved, loved it. And that is all too rare.
A touching pictorial memoir by photographer Phillip Toledano, chronicling the last three years of his father's life. Through photos and text, he captures his dad's battle with memory loss and the tenacity of a man determined to make the most of his life, despite the fading twilight.
This is a book you can browse through quickly, or if you like, linger on the images and immerse yourself in the little vignettes. These are intimate portraits, so intimate you feel as if you are in the sitting room, by the bed, or at the kitchen table. Some of the images and accompanying text are humorous, more often they are sad and poignant. Like the ones that Phillip takes of his dad's scribbles which are left about the house. One says, "Where is everybody?" Touching, hauntingly beautiful and yet, so full of love and life. A gentle reminder of the inevitable end that awaits us all. Will we slip so gracefully and so loved into the night? - Fran