Floyd Skloot, Writer


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A World of Light

University of Nebraska Press, Cloth - 2005, Paper - 2011, 200 pp

A World of Light is the sequel to Floyd Skloot's award winning memoir, In the Shadow of Memory.

From the Publisher:

Written with the same insight, passion, and humor that distinguished the earlier volume, A World of Light moves Skloot's story from the reassembly of a self after neurological calamity to the reconstruction of a shattered life. More than fifteen years after a viral attack compromised his memory and cognitive powers, Skloot now must do the vital work of recreating a cohesive life for himself even as he confronts the late stages of his mother's advancing dementia. With tenderness and candor, he finds surprising connection with her where it had long been missing, transforming the end of her life into a time of unexpected renewal.  At the same time, Skloot and his wife are building a rich new life at the center of a small isolated forest on a hillside in rural Oregon, where a dwindling water supply and the bitter assaults of the weather bring an elemental perspective to his attempts to make himself once more at home in the world. By turns poignant, funny, and frightening, A World of Light balances the urgency to capture fragmented, fleeting memories with the necessity of living fully in the present.

Quotes from reviews of the book:

*Editor's Choice* "A cool, accomplished essayist excavates his past, including a bout of lost memory and his mother's Alzheimer's."—New York Times Book Review

"The breathtaking A World of Light is Floyd Skloot's sequel to In the Shadow of Memory. . . . Skloot writes with eloquence and humor. . . . Skloot's memoir is constructed much the way his memories now work, moving back and forth through time, zipping from one subject to the next, and all the while creating indelible portraits of Skloot's life with both his mother and his supportive wife. Buttressing the story are fascinating details about how and what we remember, why emotionally tinged memories stay more powerfully in our mind, and how Skloot's writing keeps the virus that seems hellbent on quieting him at bay.  'The thing I had to do was write about the experience, refuse the silence,' Skloot says.  And here, he's done it brilliantly and with grace."—Caroline Leavitt, Boston Globe

"The emotion here runs deep, but it is contained by the author's probing intelligence. . . . Skloot knows something of grace, but he has left failure far behind.  He has painstakingly rebuilt his life and his art, shaping the experience of crippling illness into dazzling literature. . . . Floyd Skloot is the Willie Mays of memoirists."—Mark Essig, San Francisco Chronicle

"A World of Light [is] a nourishing meditation both meticulous and lyrical, a convergence familiar to anyone who has read Skloot's earlier memoir, essays and poems.  He manages, through unsentimental observations captured in searingly precise language, to make his odd, precarious world glow with its 'singular strangeness'. . . . His is a world made beautiful by its changed prospects, even while it is frighteningly uncertain in its daily realities."—Kimberly Marlowe Hartnett, Seattle Times

"Eloquently describes the assault on his brain and memory. . . . Each of his chapters can be read as an essay.  The book as a whole, however, paints a picture of a son's renascence and a mother's demise, of transitions that are complex at best and made more difficult by diseases that are horrific in their courses and consequences."—Dr. Ricardo Senno, Chicago Tribune

*Four Stars* "A masterful effort.  Words like 'nourishing' and 'grace' paint a fair picture of reviewers' tones;  they respect his accomplishment as much as they respect the effort that must have gone into creating it.  It makes one believe that, if we only remembered what was important, life might be much more rewarding."—Bookmarks Magazine

"Skloot has developed a style and voice that are distinctly his own.  To combine passion and clarity of vision, humor and the horrific, is not easy, but Skloot's essays pack enough wisdom to convince us that he is a man larger than the sum of his frustration and grief. . . . A World of Light is Skloot at his strongest and most affecting.  His brain virus, awful as it was and still is, has made him an exceptional writer and an equally exceptional person."—Sanford Pinsker, The Sewanee Review

"Skloot's writing is full of warmth and affection. . . . I closed the cover with all the anguish I experienced on coming to the end of David Copperfield; the story had gone on so long with so many details from these characters' lives, I could hardly bear to see it end."—Joyce Wilson, Harvard Review

"True to its title, this is a book about finding light in darkness and making do with the hand we're dealt, and is a thoughtful exploration of what it means to remember, as well as what it means to forget.  Gleaning wisdom alternately from literature, the great American songbook, and the baseball diamond of his youth, Skloot is both erudite and compellingly readable. . . . Skloot is immensely funny, finding reasons to laugh, and ways to make his readers laugh with him, that abbreviate our horror whenever we might otherwise expect to be overwhelmed."—Craig Brandhorst, The Southern Review

*Starred Review* "This collection of brilliant essays bears witness to the astonishing strength, spirit, and sense of humor with which he has reconstructed his life and personal history."—Booklist

"The book is more than a collection of the personal memories he so doggedly seeks; it also functions as a reflection about cognition, literature and writing, music, growing up and simple living.  The author's immense effort in putting back together his mental and physical life is at turns funny, chilling and inspiring.  He goes beyond merely making sense of his condition by showing how reaching outward can heal one's inner damage."—Publishers Weekly

"Simultaneously humorous, frightening, and sad.  These human and engaging familial essays make us realize the necessity of living fully in the present.  Highly recommended."—Library Journal

"He offers spare sentences that evoke a world . . . .  Deserves a wide audience."—Kirkus Review

"The memoir recalls the literary medical writings on neurologic themes of Oliver Sacks, who has included Skloot's work in one of his edited collections. . . . A World of Light is a thoughtful collection of essays in the broad literature and medicine genre. . . . The book is recommended for medical humanities courses. . . . The essays are well written and at times quite amusing, despite the seriousness of the topic."—Journal of the American Medical Association

"A World of Light is an engaging, sobering, and inspiring book.  By no means is it a light read, but its pages will prove rewarding to those interested in the mysteries of human memory and its decline.  The literary gifts of this writer shine brightly through. . . . Tragedy is leavened with humor, and the reality of dementia comes to be accommodated with empathy and understanding.  Along the way, the value of memory becomes highlighted by the prospect of its dissolution.  Equally impressive is the courage of the author to write such a book, with its requisite immersion not only in his mother's dementia but his own vexing cognitive challenges.  Never indulging in self-pity, Skloot has presented a book well worth reading."—Christopher Filley, MD, Neurology Today

"These personal essays offer a highly perceptive account of the shifting dynamics of family relations as the processes of aging take hold. . . . The account of going bra shopping with his mother, for example, manages to be extremely funny but also taut with insight into the confusion of watching someone who you love, who also hurt you, lose their grip on the world. . . . The essays are beautifully structured, moving seamlessly across decades. . . . I found this account of the impact of the fragmentation of memory both extremely interesting and terrifying."—Rebecca Loncraine, PopMatters Book Review

"What the book reveals is transcendent understanding.  His words move to a rhythm of ethereal design. . . . A dance to the music of life?  Indeed.  While reading Skloot, one longs to read it aloud to Marcel Proust, who surely would applaud and cry with us at the ways in which language touches our souls."—Dan Hays, Salem Statesman Journal

"If anyone can write with empathy about a parent's advancing dementia, it's Oregon writer Floyd Skloot. . . . He delivers a clear-headed account full of warmth, insight and wit."—Karen McCowan, Eugene Register-Guard

"With the absence of apparent effort that is characteristic of an adept magician, Skloot conjures up whatever setting he wishes with expert effect and takes us with him."—Chuck Joy, M.D., Psychiatric Services

"A powerful and poignant book that sings along because of Skloot's elegant style, irresistible humor, and unique perspective. Indeed, only someone with his unusual background could have written it. By turns smart, funny, observant, and insightful, he is the perfect guide to the world of dementia."—Diane Ackerman, author of A Natural History of the Senses and An Alchemy of Mind

"A World of Light is much more than a memoir: part history, part science, part baseball and literature and Broadway and art. But above and beyond all that, Floyd Skloot's beauty of a book reveals for us the importance, for better and worse, of life and love, and why we must remember, and remember, and remember."—Bret Lott, author of Jewel and Before We Get Started: A Practical Memoir of the Writer's Life

"A World of Light sheds a warm bright light on so many things, a round house in the snow, the connection and disconnections our minds make, memory and the tricks it plays, but mostly on a heart's looking back to see beyond."—Beverly D'Onofrio, author of Riding in Cars with Boys and Looking for Mary