Short Take: Slow Dancing with a Stranger – Meryl Comer

There are any number of good “dementia memoirs’ at this point. Slow Dancing with a Stranger is a sometimes poignant often startling addition to the collection. What sets it apart is its ambition to engage readers in a vitally necessary policy discussion over what is likely to become a crippling public health crisis in the U.S.

Coverage in the NYT’s “Science” section and hour on the Diane Rehm on 8/25/14 could make this book pop in the Indie market. And the author is donating 100% of the proceeds to Alzheimer’s research. I think it’s worth having out on display.

[A] unvarnished account of her experience as her husband’s caretaker after he was diagnosed with Alzheimer’s. Comer has become an advocate for the need for early diagnosis and treatment for Alzheimer’s, which is ‘pushing past cancer and HIV/AIDS’ as ‘the most critical public health problem of our times.’ A poignant love story with a powerful message.”

   — Kirkus Reviews

“This is not about the better moments of a loved one’s final years–there are no better moments here. Author Comer’s Alzheimer’s afflicted husband Harvey is often violent and verbally abusive, as well as incontinent and paranoid…. Harvey is belatedly diagnosed with early onset Alzheimer’s, by doctors who seem anxious to shield one of their own from the finality of that sentence. And at enormous financial and personal cost to Comer, her husband defies all of those doctors’ predictions by outliving his prognosis by at least a decade….The reluctance of doctors to diagnose, the cost and selectivity of institutional care (if it can even be found for those patients who physically lash out at others), and the toll on families is overwhelming. I hope that this book finds the wide audience it deserves, including the ever smaller number who have not yet had to care for a family member or friend with Alzheimer’s.

— Carla Bayha, Literati Bookstore, Ann Arbor, MI

Slow Dancing with a Stranger: Lost and Found in the Age of Alzheimer’s (9780062130822) by Meryl Comer. $26.99 hardcover. 9/2/14 on sale.

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