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Saturday, June 23, 2012

Book Tour: Entering the Blue Stone Guest Post by Molly Best Tinsley

As a literature professor, I’ve often remarked that you can’t teach a person something he or she doesn’t already know. That aphorism might explain why, at the time our parents’ health began to fail, my siblings and I weren’t aware of any books that depicted the course of organic brain disease. I can remember watching a couple of specials on PBS about Alzheimer’s, but that was before my mother began showing the symptoms. Besides, the program portrayed the disease as a fate worse than death—not something you wanted to contemplate for long. Until they have taken over your orderly life, in other words, until you know them all too well already, the facts of Parkinson’s and Alzheimer’s simply don’t register on your radar. (I am still not aware of any books that portray the chaos that results when a wife is afflicted by one disease, her husband by the other. )

This is why I felt compelled to write Entering the Blue Stone. I wanted to document my parents’ end-of-life challenges in a way that would make an impression on readers—by crafting a story, by developing my mother and father and their care-givers as characters, by conveying the sensory texture of their experience, and its ineluctable arc. I wanted to write an honest, compassionate account that readers couldn’t find anywhere else. I particularly hoped to demystify Alzheimer’s disease: it does eventually destroy cognitive function, but it does not strip its sufferers of their humanity.

One editor was interested in publishing Entering the Blue Stone if I would rewrite it as a how-to book. But there is no simple advice for navigating the chaos of two severely diminished parents: in many ways my memoir must remain a how-not-to. Besides, I’m a story-teller, not a statistician, or psychologist, or physician, and I believe that a boots-on-the-ground, anecdotal approach communicates information far more powerfully than some sort of abstract power point presentation. So as my family was thrown into a vortex of incredulity, panic and pain; when the situation was plummeting from difficult to impossible; when it felt like the end of the world, I kept a record step by step of our search for a care facility and then our adaptation to one frustration after the next--the scenes, the dialogue, the unexpected sweet times, the inevitable bad.

Stories lodge in the memory; they bring our fellow human beings to life in a nuanced, three-dimensional world. Thus perhaps most important, stories remind us that we are never in this struggle alone.

Entering the Blue Stone Summary
What happens when one's larger-than-life military parents--disciplined, distinguished, exacting--begin sliding out of control? The General struggles to maintain his invulnerable façade against Parkinson's disease; his lovely wife manifests a bizarre dementia. Their three grown children, desperate to save the situation, convince themselves of the perfect solution: an upscale retirement community. But as soon as their parents have been resettled within its walls, the many imperfections of its system of care begin to appear.

Charting the line between comedy and pathos, Molly Best Tinsley’s memoir, Entering the Blue Stone dissects the chaos at the end of life and discovers what shines beneath: family bonds, the dignity of even an unsound mind, and the endurance of the heart.

Molly Best Tinsley's Bio:
Air Force brat Molly Best Tinsley taught on the civilian faculty at the United States Naval Academy for twenty years and is the institution’s first professor emerita. Author of My Life with Darwin (Houghton Mifflin) and Throwing Knives (Ohio State University Press), she also co-authored Satan’s Chamber (Fuze Publishing) and the textbook, The Creative Process (St. Martin’s). Her fiction has earned two fellowships from the National Endowment for the Arts, the Sandstone Prize, and the Oregon Book Award. Her plays have been read and produced nationwide. She lives in Oregon, where she divides her time between Ashland and Portland.

Price: $14.95 paperback, $9.99 ebook
ISBN: 9780984990818
Pages: 195
Release: May 2012

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1 comment:

  1. Shandy, thanks for spotlighting Molly and her book.


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