Getting to know death A meditation

Gail Godwin

Book - 2024

"From New York Times-bestselling, three-time National Book Award finalist Gail Godwin, a consideration of what makes for a life well lived--for readers of Oliver Sacks's Gratitude and Deborah Levy's Cost of Living. Ingmar Bergman once said that an artist should always have one work between himself and death. When renowned author Gail Godwin tripped and broke her neck while watering the dogwood tree in her garden at age eighty-five, a lifetime of writing and publishing behind her and a half-finished novel in tow, Bergman's idea quickly unfurled in front of her, forcing her to confront a creative life interrupted. In Getting to Know Death, Godwin shares what spoke to her while in a desperate place. Remembering those she ha...s loved and survived, including a brother and father lost to suicide, and finding meaning in the encounters she has with other patients as she heals, she takes stock of a life toward the end of its long graceful arc, finding her path through the words she has written and the people she has loved. At once beautiful, biting, precise, poetic, and propulsive, Getting to Know Death is her own reckoning with the meaning of a life, the forms of passion that guide it, and how the stories we hold can shape our memories and preserve our selves as we write our own endings"--

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BIOGRAPHY/Godwin, Gail
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2nd Floor New Shelf BIOGRAPHY/Godwin, Gail (NEW SHELF) Due Aug 4, 2024
autobiographies (literary works)
New York : Bloomsbury Publishing [2024]
Main Author
Gail Godwin (author)
First edition
Physical Description
179 pages ; 22 cm
Contents unavailable.
Review by Publisher's Weekly Review

Bestseller Godwin (Grief Cottage) delivers a powerful and poetic reflection on death, dying, and what constitutes a good life. At age 85, Godwin fell while watering a dogwood tree, breaking her neck and forcing her into a brace for six months. With little to do but meditate on the implications of her injury, Godwin reacquainted herself with a speech she'd given at a literary festival a few years earlier, which included a particularly prescient line: "This is my life, but I may not get to do what I want in it." Taking that sentiment to heart, she turned her gaze backward, asking herself whether she was happy with the first eight and a half decades of her life. She found answers in memories of relationships both romantic and familial, including her absentee father's offer to pay for her college so she could escape her abusive stepfather. Godwin also reflects on the deaths of friends and family, including her beloved colleague Rob Neufeld, who edited two volumes of her journals even as he suffered from ALS. Throughout, her tone is curious and vaguely wonderstruck, resulting in an account that's full of insight and free of platitude. This is a gift. Agent: Moses Cardona, John Hawkins & Assoc. (June)

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Review by Kirkus Book Review

The veteran novelist looks with a clear eye at her declining health and the loss of many of those she has loved. In the summer of 2022, just before her 85th birthday, Godwin, a three-time nominee for the National Book Award, went out to water the dogwood tree in her garden, slipped on the gravel, and fell and broke her neck. Confined to a rehabilitation facility for a few weeks, she had to wear a neck brace for six months; when that didn't work, she underwent partially successful neck surgery. The period gave her plenty of time to reflect on her past and observe her present. In fragmented passages, organized in no evident pattern, the author reflects on her long friendship with a woman who died in 2021; the deaths by suicide of her father and brother; the tentative friendship she formed with her roommates at the rehabilitation facility; the loss of her husband two decades earlier; experiences of despair; a friendship with the home health aide who helped her after her release from the rehab center; and her less-than-cordial interactions with her blunt doctor, who told her, "You have too many issues for surgery"--and then, reluctantly and grumpily, changed his mind. Because much of the narrative revolves around the relationship between incidents in Godwin's life and the ways in which she transformed them into parts of her many novels--and takes for granted that readers will be familiar with those novels--the book will be best suited for those already acquainted with the author's work. While those looking for a coherent narrative or a tidy conclusion will be disappointed, Godwin makes for good company, and the text sparkles with flashes of insight and humor. A tart, mordantly witty glimpse at losses past, as well as those to come. Copyright (c) Kirkus Reviews, used with permission.

Copyright (c) Kirkus Reviews, used with permission.