Thanks to Publishers Weekly and their early book alert system, here's a list of a few memoirs that caught my eye:
Carter, Zoe Fitzgerald. Imperfect Endings: A Memoir. S. & S. Mar. 2010. c.272p. ISBN 978-1-4391-4824-2. $25. MEMOIR
First-time memoirist Carter comes close to perfection in this chronicle of her mother’s quest to orchestrate her own assisted suicide. Suffering from debilitating Parkinson’s disease, Carter’s elderly mother decides that she wants to die with dignity before she is wholly incapacitated. One problem with assisted suicide, however, is that it requires assistance, and no one in the family is willing to take on such complicity. With surprising humor and sensitivity, Carter presents the struggle to come to terms with mortality and family dynamics. A counterpoint to Derek Humphry’s Final Exit and winner of the 2008 Pacific Northwest Writers Association's literary contest.—L.M.
Hustvedt, Siri. The Shaking Woman; Or, a History of My Nerves. Holt. Mar. 2010. c.224p. ISBN 978-0-8050-9169-4. $23. MEMOIR
Novelist Hustvedt (What I Loved) opens her first memoir with a scene in which she's giving a speech and experiences violent spasms from the neck down. Unlike an epileptic, though, she is able to finish her talk. Subsequently, the "shaking woman," as Hustvedt calls her, appears not every time she speaks in public but often enough that Hustvedt undertakes psychotherapy, tries anxiety medication, and pursues the fascinating question: What is the Self? The controversy of Freud, the purpose of dreaming, and religious faith also come into the picture. While there is no ultimate resolution, this investigation will appeal to fans of Oliver Sacks and those interested in the peculiar twists and turns of our mysterious minds.—E.B.
Gabriel, Sarah. Eating Pomegranates: A Memoir of Mothers, Daughters, and the BRCA Gene. Scribner. Mar. 2010. 259p. ISBN 978-1-4391-4819-8. $25. MEMOIR
Her mother having died in 1980 from ovarian cancer, British journalist Gabriel underwent genetic testing. She tested positive for a mutation to the BRCA1 gene and had her ovaries prophylactically removed in 2005. Then, in 2006, she discovered a lump in her breast. Gabriel writes gracefully of her cancer diagnosis and treatment and of how her mother’s illness, never named, affected her 19-year-old self. The mother of two young girls, Gabriel now also focuses on her daughters’ place in this unwelcome family portrait. A literary triumph; for all those wondering about gene testing and its implications.—Bette-Lee Fox, Library Journal
Rocchiccioli, Roland. And Be Home Before Dark: A Child in a Frontier Town. Hardie Grant, dist. by Trafalgar Square. Mar. 2010. c.320p. ISBN 978-1-74066-551-3. pap. $26.95. MEMOIR
Western Australia is otherwordly: dusty, flat, and 1000 miles from the rest of civilization. It’s no surprise it produces such tough and strange characters as those in stage manager Rocchiccioli’s debut memoir of growing up in a small mining town there. While he tells the story of the many immigrants who worked the mine (the picture isn’t pretty—many died), it is his marrow-tough, beloved mother Beria who emerges the star. Rocchiccioli’s writing is evocative and occasionally very funny, but when it comes to turning his eye on himself, he can be strangely blank: he recounts disturbing stories about sexual abuse and having to go to the hospital for malnutrition, but it’s never much clear how he feels. Less "cozy" than it pretends, this is still a compelling evocation of an Australian boyhood.—T.B.
Wangerin, Walter. Letters from the Land of Cancer. Zondervan. Feb. 2010. c.208p. ISBN 978-0-310-29281-4. pap. $16.99. MEMOIR
Minister Wangerin (The Book of God and Paul) takes on the difficult task of composing his swan song in this elegant, spare, epistolary gem emanating spirituality and inspiration. Having been diagnosed with metastatic lung cancer, a notoriously virulent disease, Wangerin here grapples with the process of dying and of preparing to die, providing personal glimpses into his fear and suffering. A superb memoir to be savored by readers admiring the finely crafted prose of Annie Dillard.—L.M.
White, Emily. Lonely: A Memoir. Harper: HarperCollins. Mar. 2010. c.352p. ISBN 978-0-06-176509-4. $25.99. MEMOIR
This book’s title is something of a misnomer because it’s much more than a memoir. While White, a Canadian research lawyer and legal studies instructor, predicates the book upon her own life experiences, she devotes a considerable portion to articulating, evaluating, and applying the results of research studies pertaining to loneliness. Along with John T. Cacioppo and William Patrick’s seminal Loneliness: Human Nature and the Need for Social Connection, White’s work is destined to become a definitive work on the subject. Reminiscent of Kay Redfield Jamison.—L.M.