Best-selling author Amy Bloom returns to Congregation Beth Shalom Rodfe Zedek’s Books & Bagels on Sunday, May 22, at 10:30 am, to share her searing new memoir, In Love: A Memoir of Love and Loss, with congregants and the general public alike. Amy is no stranger to CBSRZ or to the subject of love, something that infuses virtually everything she writes. But this book is different from all the others. It is Amy’s own story, the story of her love for her late husband, Brian, and the decision she had to make to grant his wishes and overlook her own when he was diagnosed with early onset Alzheimer’s and decided that he wanted to end his life on his own terms, not the terms dictated by the disease.
None of us today are strangers to the havoc wreaked on our lives by disease and the daunting difficulties that we face in dealing with even the smallest details of that disease. But Amy’s book takes us to the most difficult place of all, the place where someone holds his or her mortality in their own hands and decides that the time has come to make an end to it. What follows is the tale of how they, as a couple, went through with it with Amy having to do much of the grunt work that followed, thanks to the depredations of the disease that made that decision necessary. And in typical Amy Bloom fashion, the tale, wrought as it is with philosophical and emotional elements, unfolds with verve and humor and attention to the trivia of daily life that grounds it in a reality familiar to us all.
On the New York Times Bestsellers List, In Love has attracted raves from the critics. Ann Levin notes in US Today: “Bloom has a talent for mixing the prosaic and profound, the slapstick and the serious, which makes the book, despite its depressing subject matter, a pleasure to read. Rarely has a memoir about death been so full of life.”
In The Washington Post, Simon Van Booy commented that “As with all great books about dying, ‘In Love: A Memoir of Love and Loss’ does not terrorize with grim statistics and forewarnings but rather destigmatizes euthanasia and enriches the reader’s life with urgency and gratitude. It renews those joys of being ‘In Love’ with the people around us — despite the numbing effects of routine and familiarity which so often cause happiness to lapse in middle age.”
And in the New York Times, Alex Witchel observed “Bloom fights on and, quite frankly, I don’t know how she did it. For a child to lose a parent this way is one thing. It’s a lifetime of woulda/coulda/shoulda playing hide-and-seek with the two of you. But to research, arrange and supervise every last detail of your beloved spouse’s death, without his ability to help, requires a level of fortitude most people simply do not have…. The way Bloom tells her story feels like a dam breaking; to expel the emotional weight of it seems an almost physical need…. Of course, Bloom writes about all that follows masterfully. But past that, after finishing the book, I found it hard to stop thinking about Brian, who refused to bow. This easygoing man, so grateful for his life and filled with love for his family, held his resolve to die as himself even as he kept losing himself. ‘He is a strong, determined man of mettle and courage,’ his psychiatrist wrote to Dignitas. He was indeed, and in that certainly, Bloom is his equal. And then some.”
Amy will be reading from and answering questions about In Love: A Memoir of Love and Loss at the Books & Bagels session which is open to the general public. The book will be available for sale at the session and Amy will autograph copies for buyers. To assure yourself of a copy, please email CBSRZ (firstname.lastname@example.org) to pre-order a copy. Refreshments, including bagels, of course, will be served. Please RSVP to Congregation Beth Shalom Rodfe Zedek by calling 860-526-8920 or emailing (email@example.com) to reserve a spot. Vaccination records are required for in-person attendance.
The session will also be broadcast via Zoom and registration is required. Email the CBSRZ office to receive the registration link. After registering, you will receive a confirmation email containing information about joining the meeting.
We look forward to welcoming you, either in person or via Zoom, to learn about this important and stimulating new book.