What to Look for in Winter: A Memoir in Blindness

Candia McWilliam. Harper, $27.99 (464p) ISBN 978-0-06-209450-6
Imagine your world abruptly shrouded in darkness, not because there's something wrong with your vision, but because your eyelids cannot stay open. This is what happened to Scottish writer McWilliam (A Case of Knives) at the age of 50. The condition is called blepharospasm and it's devastating, especially to McWilliam, a life-long reader, who still buys books "to have them handy by me, to have their breath in my air," though she can no longer read them. McWilliam believes that "by writing about my blindness and the life that…has brought it, I might lift it from my eyes." The resulting memoir sparkles with vivid descriptions, of her native Scotland and the idyllic island of Colonsay, of the many people in her life, and of the tragedies that punctuate it—a mother who committed suicide at the age of 36, two failed marriages, a long bout of alcoholism, crippling self-doubt, and finally, blindness. McWilliam's love of language is evident throughout. She is able to get at the essence of things in one scintillating sentence, as when she writes of her estranged architectural historian father: "He engaged with houses, less so with home." The book is an astonishingly beautiful portrait of what the world looks like when you can no longer see it. (Mar.)
Reviewed on: 04/23/2012
Release date: 03/01/2012
Genre: Nonfiction
Hardcover - 336 pages - 978-0-224-08898-5
Open Ebook - 496 pages - 978-1-4464-9908-5
Paperback - 482 pages - 978-0-09-953953-7
Ebook - 464 pages - 978-0-06-209452-0
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