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The Center of the Universe: A Memoir af…
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The Center of the Universe: A Memoir (udgave 2009)

af Nancy Bachrach

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657325,656 (3.71)Ingen
Nancy Bachrach is living in Paris, selling deodorant to the French, when a freak accident kills her father aboard his cabin cruiser, the aptly dubbedMr. Fix It, in her incongruously named hometown of Providence. Her mother, Lola, the self-proclaimed “center of the universe,” whose medical history reads like the chapter headings of a psychiatric manual, lies in a coma “on death’s waiting list.” Nancy rushes home and sits by her mother’s ventilator—thinking about Sunny von Bülow and eyeing the plug. Thus begins a family reunion with her brother, Ben (a piano prodigy and eventual surgeon who was born with three thumbs), and sister, Helen (the wild child, now an “abnormal psychologist”). This is a dark, hilarious tale of genius, madness, ineptitude, collateral damage, and hope—with an ending that’s improbable, as only the truth can be. Aching and tender, unflinching and wry,The Center of the Universeis a multi generational mother-daughter story—a splendid, funny, lyrical book about family, truth, memory, and the resilience of love.… (mere)
Medlem:ThePaxtonian
Titel:The Center of the Universe: A Memoir
Forfattere:Nancy Bachrach
Info:Knopf (2009), Hardcover, 256 pages
Samlinger:Dit bibliotek
Vurdering:****
Nøgleord:Ingen

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The Center of the Universe: A Memoir af Nancy Bachrach

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Viser 1-5 af 7 (næste | vis alle)
First published on We Should Make T-Shirts

This was another impulse check out from the library, that I actually ended up being really happy with.

Nancy tells the story of growing up with a mother with an undiagnosed mental illness. Her mother, Lola, claims to be the Center of the Universe, and the whole family lives and works around her needs.

The book switches in between memories of Nancy's childhood, and the present day, where an adult Nancy and her siblings are trying to cope with the accident that killed their father and caused severe brain damage to Lola.

What I found so interesting in this memoir was it's differences from similar memoirs I've read. A lot of the children of parents with mental illness or similar difficulties wind up resenting BOTH of their parents due to unhappy childhoods or lack of affection, which is understandable. But Nancy and her siblings care about nothing but returning their mother to her original, although troublesome mental state. Their struggle to help Lola heal brings them closer together, and closer to Lola.

Memorable Quotes

Who knows what the truth is? We are not reliable witnesses, especially of our own lives, and plenty of my own memories went down the ostrich hole. On top of the hole is a steel door with a combination lock. If there is a combination, I have lost the sequence. Maybe Lola knows it, or knew it once, but that's ancient medical history.

A memory of a memory is only a pale copy, and there's no way to compare it to an original. Maybe it's distorted; maybe it's airbrushed. There's no way to know. And yet, it's the map of the mind, and so a memory can never be false. If we're wrong about our memories, then what's the meaning of true and false?

She talked to me plenty when all I could say was "goo-goo." So now it's my turn. I savor her nonsense as though the gibberish is a riddle, jam-packed with codes.

My mother is finally the center of my universe now. My love is as wide as the ocean that separates us, and that is its depth and its strength - denial floating on distance. ( )
  brittanygates | Jun 30, 2013 |
When someone tells me that a book is nonfiction "but reads like fiction" my skeptic-meter goes way up. In this case, the story Nancy Bachrach tells flows easily across the pages, though it is not necessarily an easy read. It begins with a horrible accident -- carbon monoxide poisoning of her parents on their boat, which leaves her father dead, and her mother in a coma. The backstory of Nancy's childhood and family history is not any easier, riddled with mental illness, abuse, and what today would get the social workers to the front door for child endangerment. Yet it is told through good writing, by a daughter trying to understand her complex mother, and her equally complex relationship with that mother. The neruologica journey on which Nancy and her siblings embarked was chronicled quite well (my professional interested was engaged for this bit.) This is not an easy journey, and while there were some moments that I suppose someone could call "funny", to me they were more bittersweet, and not a humor that would make me laugh out loud. Still, I'm glad my friend recommended the book to me and I'm glad I read it. If you've got someone with bipolar diagnosis in your family, it might be tougher to read. ( )
  bookczuk | Dec 30, 2012 |
Have I mentioned that I have sworn off memoirs?I know many people love them but I tend to find them depressing and whiny and self indulgent. Did I mention depressing?

But then, something comes along that makes me admit I can sometimes be wrong. This is the book that puts the "not always" in Not Always.Why, if I have sworn off memoirs did I even pick this up to read? Well, one of the descriptions called it "darkly humorous" and the only thing better in my book than funny is dark and funny. That description hits this book on the head. Yes, there is death and drugs and sexual abuse and mental illness in this book. Lots of mental illness.
And it is laugh-out loud funny!

As the story begins and Nancy starts her recount of the story of her family, especially her mother, it is the 80's and Nancy is in France, heading an ad campaign to get the French to buy deodorant. She feels it is a hopeless job. It is, what she calls, the "Stink-o conundrum".

Then she gets the call that her father is dead, her mother in a coma and expected to die, apparently of carbon monoxide poisoning on their boat. See, her father, who did all his own maintenance on the broken down vessel. He considered himself a great handyman, a self proclaimed Mr. Fix-It, but was one with no real ability. Her mother? Well, her mother was crazy.
Nancy's life, that of her father and two siblings all revolved around her mother Lola, her spells, her attacks, her bizarre behavior, her periodic commitments to mental institutions and electric shock treatments. She is very smart, very glamorous, very theatrical and not very in touch with reality.

"I was dreaming,” the story begins.
She waits until everyone is paying attention. Mort turns off the radio.
“I am the center of the universe,” she says, looking at each of us in turn, making sure we appreciate the significance. “And everyone else is a star revolving around me.”
This is a confession. A revelation. A pronouncement. This is the way of the world.
She is Norma Desmond, descending the staircase in Sunset Boulevard, eyes wide and frozen, getting ready for her close-up. She is Salome, stripping the veil off the face of the cosmos. She is my mother, Lola Hornstein.
And she is crazy."

As she flies home, their father Mort is dead, their mother barely clinging to life, and the three siblings, a psychologist, an emergency-room doctor and the third, Nancy, an advertising copywriter, gather for what everyone assumes will be a double funeral. No one survives that much exposure to CO2 all the doctors say..and if she could possibly live, all the doctors say she will be severely brain damaged. And then the totally unexpected happens. Lola wakes up and, while she will face a number of severe issues in her recovery, she is 'cured' of her mental illness, a recovery doctors say "defies medical explanation." Granted, it is a different Lola that come backs to them.

"She won't be herself, Dr. Greely warns me over the phone. Maybe that's good news, I can't help thinking, torn between my blind love for the unknown, new Lola and my practical fear of the old one."

This story is full of serious stuff, which in lesser hands could have been the material for one more depressing memoir. There is a history of mental illness in her mother's family, seemingly her mother was the victim of sexual abuse as a child and the recipient of years of medical treatment that offered little help. But in the very skillful hands of Nancy Bachrach, it is anything but. Rather it is funny, very funny and poignant and sweet and a delight to read. ( )
  caitemaire | Jun 28, 2010 |
Nancy’s mom “Lola” has always been in the edge of sanity. All throughout Nancy’s life, “Lola” has been in and out of the electric chair – trying to get her shocked straight. Now, in her 50′s “Lola” has bigger problems. Her husband dies from carbon monoxide poisoning on their boat The Mr. Fix-It. That leaves “Lola” by herself, in a coma, with her grown children to take care of her. “Lola” wakes up, and like always, isn’t quite there. She doesn’t know how to change a light bulb when it burns out, she doesn’t understand that there is more milk in a container than can fit in her cup so it spills everywhere and she starts layering, but not in a good way. No one should ever wear 6+ pairs of panty hose at one time. Throughout the turn of events, Nancy finally feels like the daughter her mother never had. And miraculously, the mental instability seems to go as the carbon monoxide sets in.

I got The Center of the Universe from the Kelley and Hall Company. I haven’t really read a lot of memoirs, I am normally a fiction kind of girl, but I really enjoyed this book. Honestly, I think the reason I enjoyed it so much was that it doesn’t seem like it could be a realistic story. I know my childhood was pretty cookie cutter, but I still have a hard time grasping how some people grew up. I just can’t fathom having a mother who routinely was shocked to try to get the crazy out.

My grandmother had a stroke a year and a half ago, so I understand what Nancy and her siblings went through, trying to get their mother on the path to survival by herself. It’s definitely like starting over with a child, with high hopes that they’ll return to their old selves.

This book gave me a number of emotions. At times, I felt bad for Nancy and her siblings for going through this with their mother, in childhood and adulthood, I shed a tear or two as they worked to get her back up to par, I laughed my butt of at some of “Lola’s” antics. This book covered it all, heartbreak, love, suffering and the calm after the storm.

My dad works in the mental health field, so I am definitely going to pass this on to him (I get my reading obsession from him, the apple doesn’t fall far from the tree). I think he’ll really enjoy it.

I give The Center of The Universe 4 bookmarks. While I thoroughly enjoyed most of the book, there were times I caught myself skimming when it came to the medical terminology. I really wanted to understand it, it just didn’t sink in. ( )
  kariannalysis | Jun 24, 2010 |
This was the surprise book in my Christmas stash. As I had my mother to stay over the holidays, this was the perfect book to tide me over the difficult days! Nancy's story of her crazy mother is laugh-out-loud funny in places.

When her brother calls to tell her that her father has died and her mother is in a coma following a carbon monoxide leak in her father's boat (he did the maintenance himself), he tells her to "prepare yourself for a double funeral."

"How do I prepare for a double funeral? Pack two of everything? Pack clothes that are very black?"

If you enjoy sharp wit and dark humor, you'll love The Center of the Universe: A Memoir. ( )
  ThePaxtonian | Dec 31, 2009 |
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Nancy Bachrach is living in Paris, selling deodorant to the French, when a freak accident kills her father aboard his cabin cruiser, the aptly dubbedMr. Fix It, in her incongruously named hometown of Providence. Her mother, Lola, the self-proclaimed “center of the universe,” whose medical history reads like the chapter headings of a psychiatric manual, lies in a coma “on death’s waiting list.” Nancy rushes home and sits by her mother’s ventilator—thinking about Sunny von Bülow and eyeing the plug. Thus begins a family reunion with her brother, Ben (a piano prodigy and eventual surgeon who was born with three thumbs), and sister, Helen (the wild child, now an “abnormal psychologist”). This is a dark, hilarious tale of genius, madness, ineptitude, collateral damage, and hope—with an ending that’s improbable, as only the truth can be. Aching and tender, unflinching and wry,The Center of the Universeis a multi generational mother-daughter story—a splendid, funny, lyrical book about family, truth, memory, and the resilience of love.

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