Monday, October 20, 2008

Guest Blog – The Man Who Forgot How to Read

On June 16th, I posted a guest blog about Howard Engel’s novel Memory Book. It is a mystery that takes Engel’s fictional detective through a similar experience that he had in his own life. Benny Cooperman wakes up in a Toronto hospital with no idea how he got there. He discovers that he has alexia sine agraphia.

In his own life Howard Engel woke up on July 31, 2001 and gradually realized that he must have had a stroke. He calmly woke his sleeping son, Jacob, and together they went to the emergency room of the hospital where his diagnosis was confirmed. During his slow recovery from the stroke, Engel wrote Memory Book. The Man Who Forgot How to Read came later. In this short memoir, Engel details the slow adjustment of a man whose life and livelihood revolved around reading to a world where as he said the local newspaper looked like a “Serbo-Croation version of the Globe.” He could write but he could not read what he had written. Like Memory Book, the memoir has an afterword by Oliver Sacks, MD.

I found reading about Engel’s experience interesting not because I am interested in medical conditions but because I was interested in the author. In fact Engel covers much the same ground in his memoir as he did in the novel about Cooperman. Since both books were published Engel has a new book out called East of Suez. I am looking forward to reading it when it is published in the US.

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