Wednesday, June 17, 2009

This Lovely Life debuts

The author of This Lovely Life, Vicki Forman, is a loyal reader and sometime commentator on this blog - and a dear friend. We first met in graduate school. I have followed this book's journey to be for a long time now. Through the years, I have learned much from her about writing and making one's way through life.

from Publisher's Weekly (starred review:

Forman’s enormously affecting memoir—winner of the Bread Loaf Writer’s Conference Bakeless Prize—about the drastic disabilities of her extremely premature child poses challenging questions about parenthood and human compassion. Having given birth to twins at just six months’ gestation (23 weeks), due to an undetected infection she learned of only much later, the author, living with her husband and three-year-old daughter in Southern California, and aware of the daunting health issues facing these babies, begged the doctors to “let them go.” However, the doctors refused the “do-not-resuscitate” order, offering the infants every form of neonatal intensive care available, and while one of the twins died within days, the boy, Evan, survived, spending six months in the hospital before the family could take him home. Evan was plagued by severe developmental difficulties, including seizures, cerebral palsy, mental retardation, congenital heart defect and blindness, and the author writes with unflinching honesty about her raw fear and conflicted feelings. With time, Forman persevered as Evan’s advocate, finding solace in friendships with other mothers of special-needs children and open to experimental therapies that might prove helpful. Numbed by the crass exigencies surrounding the burial of one child (cemetery plots, tax forms), and hardened by what she terms post-traumatic stress syndrome, Forman portrays herself (sometimes shockingly) as deeply flawed and forgivingly human.

Meg Wolitzer, author of The Ten Year Nap and Surrender, Dorothy:
It would be difficult not to be stirred by Vicki Forman’s story; but what makes This Lovely Life so good goes well past story and into idea, with which her book is so rich. The idea of love; of choice; of ambivalence; of imperfection; of purpose: these are all here, in a narrative that is propulsive, startling and vivid, like motherhood itself.”

Tom Bissell, author of The Father of All Things: A Marine, His Son and the Legacy of Vietnam
“This is a story about children born into circumstances medicine cannot currently prevent and no parent could possibly prepare for. It begins with a scene of almost unendurable horror. When the worst (one assumes) has passed, the reader awaits the various authorial balms, tonal coolants, and narrative stand downs demanded by such a trauma-splashed opening. But the reader quickly staggers into another, even more intimate horror, and then another, and then another. A tiny, cherished hope somehow endures that things will eventually improve for the author, Vicki Forman, and her increasingly devastated family. Such hopes are repeatedly incinerated in reality’s unforgiving atmosphere. By the end, the long-delayed first steps of a five-year-old child will seem the fist-pumping stuff of a more traditional triumph narrative. And yet This Lovely Life is not at all depressing. When I finished this book I felt, rather, an electric, wide-awake sadness, as though I had lost and made a close friend on the same day.”

In the upcoming weeks and months, Vicki will be reading throughout the country and in London (!) but those of you in the So Cal area can look for her at Vroman's in Pasadena on Thursday August 27th at 7 PM. Mark your calenders.

For more information, check her website by clicking here.


Leightongirl said...

Thank you, friend. For all those decades of friendship and more.

Rebel Girl said...


Could it be?

Lou said...

Thanks for this tip of your rebel hat to a friend with a compelling story to tell.

Robbi said...

I am intrigued by the story this book has to tell, and look forward to reading it.

Daniel Olivas said...

Vicki, congratulations! I must get your book!

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