THE SEEING GLASS by Jacquelin Gorman

THE SEEING GLASS

A Memoir
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KIRKUS REVIEW

 A terrifying bout of blindness stirs up recollections of a dark family story in this moving memoir. In the spring of 1991 Gorman lost sight first in one eye and then in the other, victim of a rare optic-nerve disorder. In her last hours of seeing, she pored over old family photos, fixing faces in her memory and recalling especially her beloved older brother, Robin. Diagnosed as an autistic and considered beyond help, Robin was institutionalized in 1961 at age 12. The author's memories of that family crisis and of other events in Robin's short and tragic life are artfully woven into the story of her own blindness. The grandson of a noted ophthalmologist and great-nephew of the poet Ogden Nash, Robin spent 12 years in a mental institution and was working as a dishwasher when he was killed by a car at age 31. Cut off from her own world by blindness, Gorman came to understand her brother's awful alienation. ``In my blindness,'' she says, ``I found my brother again and I followed him in his childhood footsteps. I stood inside his shadow and occupied his darkness.'' In the chapters recalling scenes from their childhood, Gorman skillfully adopts an ingenuous narrative voice, describing, with the naivetÇ of the child she was then, Robin's anguish, her mother's sadness, her father's and grandfather's firmness, and everyone's silences. It is an affecting account, as is her story of her own mysterious blindness. Gradually her sight does return, though imperfectly. The story comes full circle when she finds among Robin's belongings a piece of amber glass, one that he used as a child to spot crabs underwater, and discovers that with his ``seeing glass,'' colors sharpen, shadows appear, and once again she can read. Two memorable stories in one. (First serial to Good Housekeeping and Reader's Digest; Book-of-the-Month Club selection)

Pub Date: June 2nd, 1997
ISBN: 1-57322-061-2
Page count: 272pp
Publisher: Riverhead
Review Posted Online:
Kirkus Reviews Issue: April 15th, 1997