Friday, August 30, 2013

Friday Books: One Lobotomy, One Accursed Book

My Lobotomy by Howard Dully and Charles Fleming -- 4 stars

This is a fascinating memoir written by a man who received a lobotomy when he was a 12 year-old boy (in 1960)! His life was hell from the age of five when his mother died, and through the abuse he suffered from his step-mother and his father. The lobotomy was his step-mother's attempt to "cure" him of being rambunctious and difficult. In reality, he was just a regular 12 year-old boy against whom, for some reason, she had great animosity.

Dully spends his entire life trying to understand what happened to him and most importantly, why. Finally in his 50s he begins to do some research to help get the answers; it eventually led to the writing of this book.

I suffered heart-stabs of pain on behalf of this boy who was so badly mistreated. All he needed was love. It was sometimes difficult to read, but always captivating and enlightening.

An Accursed Race by Elizabeth Gaskell -- 1/2 star

What is this book?? It was written in 1855. I think I got it free, thank goodness. Also, it was blessedly short.. really is a short story. It describes a group of people who are an "accursed race" and grossly discriminated against. The whole story explains what makes them an accursed race: this group of people has a terrible smell, they have a tendency to have leprosy. If they don't appear to have leprosy, it's because they have the invisible kind. They do some awful ceremony with the blood of Christian babies, (even though they are said to be faithful Catholics.)

They can only walk in these areas, they can only do these professions, they can only own so many pigs and sheep. To attend church, they can only enter through this very small door on the side. On and on. It ends abruptly. I think the author was trying to show why people should not hold this group of people in contempt, but her effort was futile. Her attitude was still paternalistic and condescending.

P.S. After writing this review, I read a bit about Elizabeth Gaskell to see what was up with her. Apparently she wrote quite a bit and felt it important to speak out against oppression. This little snippet of a book does not get her message across successfully, I'm afraid. Don't waste your time on it.

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