Friday, July 24, 2015
The Man Who Forgot How to Read by Howard Engel
"My name is Howard Engel."
"One hot midsummer morning, novelist Howard Engel picked up his newspaper from his front step and discovered he could make no sense of it. The letters had mysteriously jumbled themselves into something that looked like Cyrillic one moment and Korean the next. While he slept, Engel ahd experienced a stroke and now suffered from a rare condition called alexia sine agraphia, meaning that while he could still write, he could no longer read.
Over the next several weeks in hospital and in rehabilitation, Engel discovered that much more was affected than his ability to read. His memory failed him, and even the names of old friends escaped his tongue. At first geography eluded him: he would know that two streets met somewhere in the city, but he couldn't imagine where. Apples and grapefruit now looked the same. When he returned home, he ahd trouble remembering where things went and would routinely find cans of tuna in the dishwasher and jars of pencils in the freezer.
Despite his disabilities, Engel prepared to face his dilemma. He contacted renowned neurologist Dr. Oliver Sacks for advice and visited him in New York City, forging a lasting friendship. He bravely learned to read again. And in the face of tremendous obstacles, he triumphed in writing a new novel.
An absorbing and uplifting story, filled with sly wit and candid insights, The Man Who Forgot How to Read will appeal to anyone fascinated by the mysteries of the mind, on and off the page." -- from the inside flap
A few years ago, I saw a cartoon from WNYC's Radiolab about Harold Engel, a Canadian mystery novelist, who had a stroke and developed the rare condition alexia sine agraphia. He became unable to read, though he could still write. This was a fascinating book about the Engel's ability to adapt and to find new ways to read.
Date read: 7/23/2015
Rating: 3*/5 = good
Publisher: St Martin's Press
# of pages: 147