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  1 NEW LIFE, NO INSTRUCTIONS: A MEMOIR
Author: Caldwell, Gail Biographee: Caldwell, Gail
 
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Class: Biography
Age: Adult
Language: English
LC: PN4874.C
Print Run: 30000
ISBN-13: 9781400069545
LCCN: 2013015486
Imprint: Random House
Pub Date: 04/01/2014
Availability: Out of Print Confirmed
List: $23.00
  Hardcover
Physical Description: 164 pages ; 22 cm H 8.53", W 5.98", D 0.84", 0.79 lbs.
LC Series:
Brodart Sources: Brodart's Insight Catalog: Adult
Brodart's TOP Adult Titles
Bibliographies: Public Library Core Collection: Nonfiction, 15th ed.
Public Library Core Collection: Nonfiction, 16th ed.
Awards: Library Journal Starred Reviews
Starred Reviews: Library Journal
TIPS Subjects: Writing/Journalism/Publishing
Health/Medicine/Safety (Consumer)
Biography, Individual
BISAC Subjects: BIOGRAPHY & AUTOBIOGRAPHY / Personal Memoirs
MEDICAL / General
PETS / Dogs / General
LC Subjects: Caldwell, Gail,, 1951-
Critics, United States, Biography
Journalists, United States, Biography
Total hip replacement, Patients, Biography
SEARS Subjects: Caldwell, Gail,, 1951-
Critics
Hip joint, Surgery
Journalists, United States, Biography
Reading Programs:
 
Annotations
Brodart's TOP Adult Titles | 01/01/2014
With no end to heartache in sight after losing her best friend, her mom, and her dog so close together, one woman sheds the bonds of regret with the help of a routine doctor's visit that could fix the painful limp once caused by polio. 176pp., 30K, Auth res: Cambridge, MA
Starred Reviews:
Library Journal | 02/06/2014
Caldwell, author of the previous memoirs Let's Take the Long Way Home and A Strong West Wind, presents a calm and affecting portrait of the challenges of loss and frailty in middle age in her carefully written series of observations on the roles of friends, family, and beloved pets in creating a sense of community in our lives. The benefits of a long-overdue medical procedure at the center of the book extend beyond the physical into the realm of the transformative, but Caldwell's steady tone reminds us of the daily miracles of friendship, too. VERDICT This lovely recounting of a disheartening patch in Caldwell's life will appeal to scores of readers of a certain age who are encountering their own mortality while still figuring this whole life thing out. [See Prepub Alert, 11/15/13.]. 176p. LJ Reviews Online Review. LIBRARY JOURNAL, c2014.
Journal Reviews
BookPage | 04/01/2014
Sometimes things happen in life that change one's perspective. Literally. For Gail Caldwell, hip surgery made her five-eighths of an inch taller. It was a new view, and she wasn't quite sure what to make of it. Caldwell had suffered from polio as a child, and for years she attributed her slight limp and growing physical pain to the disease. Though she acknowledged that polio was rough, Caldwell refused to see herself as anything but a survivor. In a new memoir, New Life, No Instructions, she traces how she arrived at this crucial self-perception--the influence of her father, her own stubbornness, the meticulous maintenance of a "tough girl" persona. But at nearly 60, the jig seems up. Caldwell's old physical routines (long swims, walks with big dogs, rowing) seem increasingly untenable. And she's suffered a series of deep losses--her parents, her close friend Caroline (memorialized in Caldwell's unforgettable Let's Take the Long Way Home) and her beloved dog, Clementine. Now she's at a crossroads. How can she keep moving forward when she struggles to even climb her stairs? Then, to Caldwell's surprise, a new doctor suggests that a total hip replacement would take away the chronic physical pain that has come to dominate her life. And her new puppy, a Samoyed named Tula, fills her with joy. As Caldwell's physical body changes, new possibilities are presented for her emotional life. What I like best about this book is its refusal to compartmentalize. We often think of the body as being separated from the mind, and (more importantly) the heart. Caldwell's story forces us to think otherwise. It interweaves reflections on everything from dogs to disease, from the loss of loved ones to the pleasures and pains of new beginnings. New Life, No Instructions shows us how a lot of little things--shifted perspectives about memories, a new puppy, dear friends and a height increase of just over half an inch--add up to something much more significant: a new life, embarked upon and embraced. Kelly Blewett. 176pg. BOOKPAGE, c2014.
Booklist | 03/15/2014
Getting old, as they say, is not for sissies, and no one would call Pulitzer Prize winner Caldwell (Let's Take the Long Way Home, 2010) a wimp. Yet time and loss were taking their toll as she suffered the deaths of her mother and her two best friends, one human (the writer Caroline Knapp) and one canine (her beloved Samoyed, Clementine). As Caldwell moved forward, she adopted a new puppy and immediately began to doubt the wisdom of this decision. The polio that had plagued her since childhood and left her with a perceptible limp was becoming increasingly painful, making life with an endlessly energetic and preternaturally strong dog difficult. When it was finally determined that Caldwell required a total hip replacement, the diagnosis was both a relief and a challenge for a middle-aged, single woman. There may not have been a road map for the life-changing trip Caldwell was about to take, but, as this memoir makes clear, given her indefatigable sense of commitment and community, at the very least Caldwell realized she had the power to endure. Haggas, Carol. 176p. AMERICAN LIBRARY ASSOCIATION, c2014.
Kirkus Reviews | 04/01/2014
Making the most of a new lease on life. Caldwell (Let's Take the Long Way Home: A Memoir of Friendship, 2010, etc.) has had a writing career intertwined with the writer Caroline Knapp (Drinking: A Love Story, 1997, etc.), as the two friends supported each other through challenges big and small. They've played roles in each other's memoirs; this time, Knapp's role is posthumous (she died in 2002) but no less important. Caldwell takes the death of her friend, lost to cancer, as one of three leaping-off points. She also deals with the deaths of both her mother and her dog, and while these three losses happen in a 10-year span, they comprise a loss of nearly all the closest companions she has known. "One of the things you miss after someone dies is the shared fact of you. The we of me," she writes: "The existential anchor," and as we know, without an anchor, there is drift. The author's drift is our gain, though, as she ably explores the shifts of our hearts as we grieve. Her body underwent shifts as well; a case of polio from early childhood reared up again, leaving her barely ambulatory. While the heart's ailments took longer to heal, at least in Caldwell's case, science could assist the body. A common surgery, it turned out, could return her to full mobility; when it did, she experienced a renewed vigor in easing the emotional pain. She adopted a dog, wondering if she had waited long enough after her last dog passed away. As she explores the elastic boundaries of the heart in giving and taking new beings into our lives, she discusses her reconnection with the community around her. Readers will enjoy Caldwell's thoughtful, wide-eyed view of the world around her and her musings on how we get our bearings in midlife. 176pg. KIRKUS MEDIA LLC, c2014.
Library Journal Prepub Alert | 10/28/2013
Highly regarded when she served as chief book critic for the Boston Globe--she won the Pulitzer Prize for criticism--Caldwell has since made her mark with the thoughtful and beautifully wrought memoirs Let's Take the Long Way Home and A Strong West Wind. Here she relates how, after losing in quick succession her best friend, her mother, and her dog--that is, her most essential companions--she also developed a painful limp as a result of having had polio in infancy. Then a simple surgery she learned about during a routine doctor's visit restored her walk--and her sense of self. 176p. LJ Prepub Alert Online Review. LIBRARY JOURNAL, c2013.
Publishers Weekly | 01/13/2014
Caldwell, a Cambridge, Mass.,-based author of two stalwart memoirs, most recently about the untimely death of her best friend Caroline Knapp (Let's Take the Long Way Home), again confronts, with pluck and fortitude, the hurdles that life throws her way--in this case, hip surgery while tending to a new pet Samoyed. Caldwell, we know from her previous work, adores dogs, specifically big dogs, and after the death of her beloved Clementine, in 2008, she tracked down a Samoyed breeder she had her eye on for years and procured a new puppy, Tula. However, at age 57 and with a "bum leg," the product of being stricken with polio as a six-month-old child growing up in West Texas in 1951, Caldwell wondered at the wisdom of getting a very muscular, high-octane dog when her leg strength seemed to be diminishing alarmingly. Indeed, after her limp got worse, after falling and increasing pain she could no longer ignore, she finally got an X-ray, and the severe degenerative arthritis that had been gnawing away at her right hip was clearly revealed. Hip surgery in 2011 proved a regular miracle for a condition like hers, despite the arduous six-month rehabilitative process. Yet poor Tula gets back-seated in this crisp, straightforward work, and while the author finds her solid footing, her narrative lacks the emotional centering of her last work. (Apr.). 176p. PUBLISHERS WEEKLY, c2014.
9781400069545,dl.it[0].title
Review Citations
New York Times Book Review | 06/22/2014