EXCERPT and GIVEAWAY
An Absent Mind
by Eric Rill
An Absent Mind is on tour with Goddess Fish Promotions and stops here today for an excerpt and a giveaway. Please be sure to visit the other tour stops as well.
An Absent Mind, a riveting new novel from Eric Rill, author of Pinnacle of Deceit and The Innocent Traitor, is about a race against time. The ticking time bomb is Saul Reimer's sanity. His Alzheimer's is going to be the catalyst that will either bring his family together or tear it apart.
Although An Absent Mind depicts Saul's arduous struggle with Alzheimer's, it is equally a story about his relationship with his loved ones and their shared journey.
Seventy-one, and a man used to controlling those around him, Saul finds himself helplessly slipping into the abyss in what he describes as his slow dance with death. As we listen in on his ramblings, humor, emotions, lucid moments, and confusion, we are also privy to the thoughts and feelings his family share with us - his wife, Monique, conflicted and depressed; caring, yet angry; his daughter, Florence, compassionate, worried about her father's health, yet proper and reserved; his son, Joey, self-centered and narcissistic, seemingly distant from his family's challenges. And Dr. Tremblay, Saul's Alzheimer's specialist, who provides the reader with facts and observations about this dreaded disease that imprisons more than 35 million people worldwide.
We know from the beginning how it has to end for Saul, because no one has ever outsmarted Alzheimer's. But how will he navigate the meandering road that will eventually destroy his health and result in his death? And how will it affect those around him as they live with strain and guilt, while at the same time being forced to face their own demons?
These questions are answered expertly by the author as he explores the conflicts that rise to the surface as the family deals with Saul's dementia.
Eric Rill's novel is reminiscent of Lisa Genova's Still Alice, Nicholas Sparks' The Notebook, and Alice Munro's Away From Her. Although a beautiful work of literary fiction, An Absent Mind will expose the reader to the reality of Alzheimer's.
Saul: The Façade
It’s been almost two years since they told me how sick and useless I was. I am able to keep it more or less together most days. And I stress days, because by dinnertime my mind is exhausted. I never knew you could have an exhausted mind, but I do now. The sheer weight of having to pretend I am normal all day for my friends, or the store clerks, feels like a boulder around my neck. What happens toward sundown is like when you hear the snap, crackle, and pop when the transistors in your old television go bad. Everything numbs and becomes foggy. Sights, sounds, and smells meld into a ball and explode toward the sky. It’s as if I’m not the same person I was when I got up.
As of now anyway, I can see everything I want to say as clear as ice. It’s right there on a blackboard in front of me, spelled out perfectly. But then to actually say what’s written on the blackboard isn’t always a piece of cake. Sometimes it’s easy, like it is right now. I know what I’m saying to you is coherent and that my vocabulary is correct - but that could suddenly change and become difficult, sometimes impossible.
In the morning, I can be happy - well, maybe not happy, but not feeling sorry for myself. It’s different by lunch - if I remember to eat, and I generally do because it’s on my list, although I have been known to leave my pad somewhere and not be able to find it; if that happens, Monique usually reminds me. At least I think she does. Regardless, by lunchtime things generally start to go downhill.
Today, while I was sitting in my easy chair, she bent down to kiss me and brought her hand quickly to her mouth.
“Whew,” she said, or something like that. “You didn’t brush your teeth. Why did you check it off?”
I didn’t bother answering, not because she was interrupting my soap opera - I really wasn’t focusing anyway - but because I didn’t know the answer. Maybe I didn’t check the toothbrush to see if it was wet or dry, like I’ve been doing. Then she scolded me, like it was my fault. First they tell you you’re sick because you can’t remember anything and then they give you hell for not remembering.
The doorbell rang, and Monique disappeared for a minute, reappearing with Arthur Winslow in tow. I was standing there with the telephone receiver in my hand. Monique took it from me and put it back in the cradle.
Arthur was in high school with me and was actually the one who squealed to the principal that I was the one who decked Ian Coulter. Coulter, even though one of the great anti-Semites of all time, lived by a code of honor and wouldn’t have turned me in, but Arthur did, and I understand why. You see, Arthur was the goody-goody of the class. He would have turned in his own mother if she had done something wrong. But other than squealing on me, he was a true and trusted friend.
Arthur lives down the street - at least I think he still does - and faithfully drops in to see me. Sometimes I think he has nothing else to do. I can’t tell if he has missed any days visiting, or, if so, how many, but that doesn’t matter now. What I do know is he cares, and I hope he keeps coming, even if I don’t recognize him one day.
I already know that there will come a time when I won’t know him, or people like Bernie. Frankly, I don’t give a damn if I don’t recognize Bernie - in fact, that could be the Lord’s gift to me, something to make up for what lies ahead. What does bother me - in fact, scares the hell out of me - is not recognizing the kids. As inconceivable as that seems, they say it will happen as sure as night follows day. Who, you may ask, are they? I remember when I was a kid, my grandmother would always quote the almighty they. I would ask her, “Who are they, Granny?” She would always answer, “You know, they.” I think maybe she had Alzheimer’s!
Praise for the Book
"Rill's brilliant novel about Alzheimer's is so well-crafted, the fully-human characters seem real ... unvarnished prose reminiscent of Hemingway's straightforward style." ~ 5-Star Clarion/Foreword Review
"An uncommonly brave book ... Rill invests every page with true feeling." ~ Starred BlueInk Review
"Rill skillfully portrays the various stages of the disease ... Readers who have a loved one with Alzheimer's might find some comfort in the novel's insights." ~ Kirkus Review
"The mark of a good novel is one that makes you laugh and cry and An Absent Mind hits the target dead center. Saul takes you into the heart of a person who knows something is going terribly wrong." ~ L.S. Fisher - Early onset Alzheimer's blog
"This book really shows what someone with Alzheimer's goes through, as well as the experiences of those who care for him." ~ Pat White, Memories from my life Alzheimer's blog
"Witness Alzheimer's from many perspectives ... Rill tells this heart-wrenching story in an uplifting manner that will engage the reader from the beginning to the end of the Reimer family's journey." ~ EYES IN Books
"It is a powerful story told in a unique way. I recommend this book." ~ Bob Lowry, Satisfying Retirement
"Through the art of fiction, Rill gives a harrowing, hard-hitting look at the true nature of Alzheimer's. It is both shocking and informative." ~ Stuart Nulman, Montreal Times
"This is a novel, but anyone who has been involved in the care of someone with dementia will know it is not fiction." ~ Linda Bernstein, nextavenue.org (PBS)
About the Author
Eric Rill was born in Montreal and graduated from Cornell University with a Bachelor of Arts, and from UCLA with an MBA. He held several executive positions in the hospitality industry, including president of a global hotel group. His hobbies include trekking, scuba diving, and collecting antique carpets. Eric has two sons and divides his time between his residence in Panama and international travel.
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