Saturday, June 6, 2009

Lost in America (2003)

A Journey With My Father
by Sherwin Nuland

From Litt Med NYU Annotations: "Sherwin Nuland has had a distinguished career as a surgeon on the faculty at Yale University and as an author with interests in history of medicine, medical ethics, and medical humanism. In this memoir we become acquainted with a different side of Nuland, that of son to a widowed, immigrant father with whom the author had a complex and difficult relationship.

We learn also that Nuland has suffered from depression on and off since he was preadolescent, experiencing a major breakdown in midlife. This book attempts to make sense out of the family dynamics and the depression. At the same time, it describes the insular world of Russian Jewish immigrants living in New York City's Lower East Side and Bronx in the first half of the 20th century.

This is a well written, absorbing, and sometimes painful-to read-memoir. Nuland attempts to understand his difficult relationship with his father through an exploration of memory, cultural background, and by narrative reconstruction. He is often brutally frank about the fear, mortification, disdain inspired in him by his father. "Maniacal fury," "tormentor," "smothering power," "entangling shame" are terms he uses to describe his father's mood, behavior, and his own feelings about the man. Nuland understands, retrospectively, his own adolescent self-absorption and his near abandonment of Meyer as a young adult."

NY Times Review.

Available in book form, CD and cassette tapes (latter two read by the author) .