Wednesday, September 27, 2023

Five top books that reckon with illness & time

Maria Smilios's new book is The Black Angels: The Untold Story of the Nurses Who Helped Cure Tuberculosis. She learned about the Black Angels while working as a science book editor at Springer Publishing. As a native New Yorker and lover of history, medicine, and women’s narratives, she became determined to tell their story. In addition to interviewing historians, archivists, and medical professionals, she spent years immersed in the lives and stories of those close to these extraordinary women. Smilios holds a master of arts in religion and literature from Boston University, where she was a Luce scholar and taught in the religion and writing program.

At Lit Hub Smilios tagged "five books [that] reckon with time and mortality in different ways," including:
Paul Harding, Tinkers

Paul Harding’s Pulitzer Prize-winning book, Tinkers, tells the story of George Washington Crosby, a clock repairer, who lays dying in his living room. Surrounded by his kids, Crosby spends the last eight days of his life drifting in and out of consciousness, recalling the ecstasy and agony of his upbringing in Maine in early 1900. His memories, delivered in elegiac prose and steeped in the natural world — light and shadows and trees — contemplate the impermanence of time and reality, something Crosby desperately fears: “I will remain a set of impressions porous and open,” he says, and then slips back into memory, as if there he will solidify the image.

When his life comes to an end, Crosby finds solace in understanding that life is a series of fleeting moments, flashes of light that shine bright and fade away, and it’s the moment that matters, not what happens after: “Everything is made to perish… What persists beyond this cataclysm of making and unmaking?”
Read about another entry on the list.

The Page 69 Test: Tinkers.

--Marshal Zeringue