In the tradition of Brain on Fire and When Breath Becomes Air, Gerda Saunders’ Memory’s Last Breath: Field Notes on My Dementia is an unsparing, beautifully written memoir—a true-life Still Alice that captures Saunders’ experience as a fiercely intellectual person living with the knowledge that her brain is betraying her. Saunders’ book is uncharted territory in the writing on dementia, a diagnosis one in nine Americans will receive.
Based on the “field notes” she keeps in her journal, Memory’s Last Breath is Saunders’ astonishing window into a life distorted by dementia. She writes about shopping trips cut short but unintentional shoplifting, car journeys derailed when she loses her bearings, and the embarrassment of forgetting what she has just said to a room of colleagues. Coping with the complications of losing short-term memory, Saunders nonetheless embarks on a personal investigation of the brain and its mysteries, examining science and literatures, and immersing herself in vivid memories of her childhood in South Africa.
Written in a distinctive voice without a trace of self-pity, Memory’s Last Breath is a remarkable, aphorism-free contribution to the literature of dementia—and an eye-opening personal memoir that will grip all adventurous readers.