Each day leading up to the April 14 announcement of the Minnesota Book Awards, we highlight one of the thirty-two finalists. Today we feature 2012 Memoir & Creative Nonfiction Finalist:
A Song at Twilight: Of Alzheimer’s and Love
Category Sponsor: Leonard, Street and Deinard
Nancy Paddock’s memoir follows her parents’ descent into Alzheimer’s and the challenges and choices she and her sisters face while confronting this most baffling and tragic of diseases. Discovering that she cannot save them from their crumbling reality, Paddock works to rescue the details of their lives and seeks to retrieve a pattern from chaos—preserving, examining, and reliving the interwoven stories of lovers and family.
An excerpt from A Song at Twilight:
My mother’s truth, now, is mutable: the story of the moment. Sometimes it is as though the fabric of her life has been torn apart, then pieced together like a crazy quilt. Today, she who has ever been the keeper of our family stories, telling them over and over so we will remember, says “When I lived in Paris—“
“Mama, I say as gently as possible, “you were never in Paris.”
“But my dad has a pass for the railroad.”
“You can’t take a train to Paris. You went to New York and Chicago and Seattle as a child.”
“I do remember—“
“You and Dad went to Copenhagen, Stockholm, Bergen a few years ago. You visited Hong Kong, Seoul, and Singapore with Elizabeth, and Alaska with Helen.”
“No, this was early, when I was a girl.” She is silent, deflated. What she knows has been denied. Does the memory of Paris wink out, or persist like a ghost, a bright amalgam of other times and places, Impressionist paintings, video travelogues, and stories told by others? A Paris of the imagination: a refuge, an ego-salve, a glamorous cushion against the limitations of old age? Mama shrinks, frightened by the disparity between what she believes and what I say is true.
Paddock is a poet and screenwriter. She lives in Litchfield, Minnesota.
“Alzheimer’s is an important subject. A Song at Twilight is an almost therapeutic read for adult children with aging parents that show signs of dementia.”
– Minnesota Book Awards Judge
“Powerful. This memoir is as much about life and happy beginnings as it is about the other end of the spectrum.”
– Minnesota Book Awards Judge
“Minnesota poet Nancy Paddock has written an intensely personal and heart-shattering memoir about being a caretaker for her parents as they descend into the murky landscapes of Alzheimer’s and depression. It’s also a fascinating, illuminating meditation on the indeterminacy of memory and memoir, a struggle to remember despite the diminishment of the mind.”
– Minneapolis Star Tribune
Award winners will be announced at the 24th Annual Minnesota Book Awards Gala on Saturday, April 14, 2012 at the Crowne Plaza Hotel – Saint Paul Riverfront. The opening reception begins at 7 p.m. followed by the awards ceremony at 8 p.m. New this year: a post-awards “Epilogue Celebration.” Tickets are available online or by calling 651-222-3242. Click here for more information.
Have you read A Song at Twilight: Of Alzheimer’s and Love? What are your thoughts? We welcome your comments!