Laure Adler, Author, Anne-Marie Glasheen, Translator , trans. from the French by Anne-Marie Glasheen. Granta $16.95 (140p) ISBN 978-1-86207-546-7

Seventeen years after her baby's death, French author and journalist Adler (Marguerite Duras: A Life) decided to write about her son and his death, in "an attempt to be reconciled with the world." She remembers the sensual pleasures of her pregnancy: her swollen belly and her "wild womb" where her unborn "cavorted night and day." After Rémi was born, she delighted in bathing him, cuddling him and drinking in his baby smells. Then, one awful day, she got word he'd been taken to a hospital. He wasn't breathing. The doctors didn't know what was wrong and spoke little to her or her husband, which only made it worse; their silence "intensifies your anguish and feeds your fears." In pediatric intensive care for the rest of his short life, Rémi was constantly hooked up to ventilators. Adler was so desperate, she consulted clairvoyants and faith healers. Eventually, Rémi was shifted to a more patient-friendly hospital, where, at nine months old, he died. What was his illness? Could his death have been prevented with different treatment? Readers may be curious, but Adler is not concerned here with technical matters. She is simply reliving the baby's brief life, hoping to find some catharsis, perhaps, or at least to leave a record of Rémi for his later siblings. Elegies may be uncommon in modern literature, but readers who appreciate a sensitive meditation on the brevity of life may cherish Adler's emotional memorial to her baby son. (Feb. 13)

Reviewed on: 12/23/2002
Release date: 02/01/2003
Genre: Nonfiction
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