2021年8月26日 星期四

Three Sharply Observed Books Showcase the Enduring Appeal of Memoirs About Dealing With Disease 三本新書 詳細刻畫與疾病共處堅忍�

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2021/08/27 第348期 訂閱/退訂看歷史報份
紐時周報精選 Three Sharply Observed Books Showcase the Enduring Appeal of Memoirs About Dealing With Disease三本新書 詳細刻畫與疾病共處堅忍歷
9/11 Museum's 20th-Anniversary Exhibitions Become Victims of Cuts 911事件20周年特展 因省錢取消
Three Sharply Observed Books Showcase the Enduring Appeal of Memoirs About Dealing With Disease三本新書 詳細刻畫與疾病共處堅忍歷
文/Dwight Garner

三本新書 詳細刻畫與疾病共處堅忍歷程

Friedrich Nietzsche's maxim, that whatever doesn't kill you makes you stronger, has a corollary in the book world: What doesn't kill you will be the topic of your memoir.


The cultural appetite for stories of illness, disease, disorder and grave old age is bottomless. David Pecker, who presided over the National Enquirer and other tabloids for decades, understood the type of headlines — "Sad Last Days," "Six Months to Live" — that drew the most readers.


As a genre, disease and illness memoirs are permanently interesting if honest and sharply observed.


Three new books about affliction — Fred D'Aguiar's "Year of Plagues," about his aggressive prostate cancer; Jan Grue's "I Live a Life Like Yours," about living with spinal muscular atrophy, diagnosed at age 3; and James Tate Hill's "Blind Man's Bluff," about being declared legally blind at 16 — have a lot to say about desire and pain and depression and shame and unlikely sources of joy, among other topics.


These books resonate especially during this COVID relapse. It's a wary, sensitizing moment. Everybody knows that no one needs more trouble added to their pile.


These books are very different.


D'Aguiar is a poet, novelist and playwright who was born in London to Guyanese parents. He's in his early 60s and lives in Southern California, where he's a professor of English at UCLA.


In the fall of 2019, he began to feel unwell. When he learned he had prostate cancer, he had no idea what was in store: a year of tests and probes and radiation treatments and surgery that had to take place under fear of COVID and under strict COVID protocols.


Grue's book details a life spent largely in a wheelchair, although he can walk a bit, while dreaming of freedom of motion and escape from reliance on, and the gazes of, others.


Grue is married and has a child. He is helplessly epigrammatic: "Diagnosis is not fate"; "Even one who is weak may despise weakness"; "The gaze of others is disciplinary"; and, brilliantly, "The search for a higher purpose can also be an attempt to flee."


Hill's memoir is about how, while in high school, he learned he had Leber's hereditary optic neuropathy. It's a condition that left Hill legally blind.


Hill may be legally blind, but he can still see a tiny amount, around the margins. "Blind Man's Bluff" is an ideal title, because the book is largely about Hill's attempts to pass as a sighted person. Like Grue, he really hates being left behind.


9/11 Museum's 20th-Anniversary Exhibitions Become Victims of Cuts 911事件20周年特展 因省錢取消
文/Zachary Small

911事件20周年特展 因省錢取消

The 9/11 Memorial & Museum in lower Manhattan has dropped plans for special exhibitions commemorating the 20th anniversary of what was perhaps the most traumatic day in modern American history, museum officials said.


The reduction came after a severe budget crisis forced the nonprofit museum to make cuts that included furloughs and layoffs affecting around 60% of its staff.


Before the coronavirus pandemic, curators had discussed a large anniversary exhibition examining music's role in uniting Americans after 9/11 and other tragedies, such as the Pulse nightclub shootings in Orlando, Florida. But when more than half of the exhibitions department was laid off, museum leaders shelved the project, according to three former department members.


A spokeswoman, Lee Cochran, said the decision was to focus on the "core museum experience" — the existing permanent exhibitions that drive attendance.


Administrators said that the layoffs and the elimination of special anniversary programming had been approved by the institution's chairman, Mike Bloomberg, the former mayor.


"Leadership put together the best possible plan to navigate this extraordinarily challenging time," Marc La Vorgna, a Bloomberg representative, said in a statement, adding that Bloomberg had personally donated $30 million to the museum and raised another $15 million for the institution during the pandemic.


"The Board supported and approved plans that were necessary to prevent this vitally important institution from suffering long-term harm, and to preserve its mission to remember and honor the victims of Sept. 11," La Vorgna said.


A planned traveling exhibition about the history of 9/11 has been replaced with downloadable posters created in partnership with the American Library Association.


The museum and memorial will resume its live reading of the names of the nearly 3,000 people killed on Sept. 11, 2001.


The 9/11 Museum is largely dependent on ticket sales; its temporary closure and limited capacity left the institution with an $18 million deficit last year.


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