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Lost in America [Paperback]

Sherwin B. Nuland
5.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (1 customer review)
RRP: £9.82
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Book Description

1 April 2004
A writer renowned for his insight into the mysteries of the body now gives us a lambent and profoundly moving book about the mysteries of family. At its center lies Sherwin Nuland’s Rembrandtesque portrait of his father, Meyer Nudelman, a Jewish garment worker who came to America in the early years of the last century but remained an eternal outsider. Awkward in speech and movement, broken by the premature deaths of a wife and child, Meyer ruled his youngest son with a regime of rage, dependency, and helpless love that outlasted his death.

In evoking their relationship, Nuland also summons up the warmth and claustrophobia of a vanished immigrant New York, a world that impelled its children toward success yet made them feel like traitors for leaving it behind. Full of feeling and unwavering observation, Lost in America deserves a place alongside such classics as Patrimony and Call It Sleep.

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Product details

  • Paperback: 224 pages
  • Publisher: Vintage Books; New title edition (1 April 2004)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0375727221
  • ISBN-13: 978-0375727221
  • Product Dimensions: 20.2 x 13.2 x 1.6 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 5.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (1 customer review)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 1,017,394 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Moving and evocative 21 Aug 2008
I found this a deeply moving book that clearly evoked the author's growing up with a father who never adapted to his new life in America. Similar books have of course been written but the combination of detail with anger, compassion and humour of this one must be rare, as was his father's illness. I will read some sections again and again.
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Amazon.com: 4.6 out of 5 stars  31 reviews
29 of 29 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Searing memoir and eulogy of love 3 May 2003
By Peggy Vincent - Published on Amazon.com
Whoa, this is a hard one. Lost in America, written by the gifted Nuland, is an ode to his father, a work of self-therapy for himself, a gift to his readers, and an offering to anyone looking for resolution and understanding of a difficult family situation.
Lost in America begins with the author admitting to coming under the grips of debilitating depression, and the writing of this book seems to have been his way of fighting out of that despair, of coming to terms with some of its causes, and of trying to explain all that went wrong with his father's life as a Jewish immigrant in America - and how those failures impacted Sherwin Nuland. The turning point comes with Nuland's discovery that his father suffered the mental and neurological effects of late-stage syphilis - and with his acceptance that happiness for him would be impossible.
Heartbreaking and oh, so beautifully written. But also difficult (on an emotional level) to read; you may find yourself putting it aside for a few days before wanting to continue. But persevere and read to the end. You won't regret it.
17 of 17 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Powerful and deeply moving 20 April 2003
By E. Davis - Published on Amazon.com
In an earlier book, Dr. Nuland told us How We Die. That book gave me some understanding and comfort following my father's death. In this beautifully-written and heart-wrenching memoir, Dr. Nuland tries to come to terms with his own father's death and in doing so, manages to exorcise some demons.
This is a very brave memoir in that the author spares no one, including himself. It is at once brutally honest (sometimes so much so, that I had to stop reading) and incisive. His prose style--unusual for a doctor--is lyrical and succinct. He tells his story from a uniquely Jewish perspective (naturally) and so I wondered if readers with other religious affiliations would respond in the same way. Perhaps it doesn't matter. The book is a winner and I am enriched from having read it.
20 of 21 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Family Dynamics Woven Into a Powerful Narrative 5 Sep 2004
By Bernard J. Leininger - Published on Amazon.com
In 1994, when DR Nuland published his "Best Seller". "How We Die", I wrote a review for a Journal. As a surgeon, I was not impressed with explication of the disease processes that commonly caused death and the organization of the material; but I distinctly remember giving Nuland high praise for "his literary facility with the narrative in the case histories and the poignancy of his boyhood family life".

This same literary power is revisited in "spades" as he deftly threads the emotions of ethnicity, bizarre family dynamics, guilt, failures, despair, poverty, illnesses, hatred, rage, control and triumph into the fabric of a powerful narrative. The chronology conveniently saves the denouement of the malady that causes the Father's problems to almost the end.

The author's triumph in being appointed Chief Surgical Resident brought redemption for the father's failures as well as a modicum of reconcilliation and (unexpressed) love to the father-son rapport.

The author's wish that his father would die so that he would not cause him further embarassment perhaps emanated the ethical guilt to be expunged by re-visiting the father-son dynamics in the writing of this book. The moral honesty with which he wrote of this relationship had to have been very painful for the author, as it seemed palpable to me in the reading(a mark of good literature).

This is definitely Nuland's best literary work.
13 of 13 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Illuminating and touching book 7 Jan 2003
By A Customer - Published on Amazon.com
This isn't the kind of book I normally read, but it was given to me before I went on vacation. I just picked it up one night and couldn't put it down. Nuland first takes the reader on a familiar journey as a son of poor immigrants struggling to survive in a new country. In widening circles of description, recognition, and, finally, illumination, Nuland allows the reader to accompany him in his own journey to understanding and perhaps forgiving the person who influenced his life so strongly. The book is funny and tragic and very very moving.
17 of 19 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Moving, sensitive, beautifully written 15 Jan 2003
By A Customer - Published on Amazon.com
I love this book. Dr. Nuland takes you on a journey with him to his past and his family, in particular his relationship with his father. He tells his story in a manner that is simple, clear, yet deeply moving. His characters are real people who I really cared about while I was reading. I've read his previous books and was very impressed; this one is even better. His description of his severe depression was gripping. How I wish I could describe mine as well. Thank you, Dr. Nuland for a heart-warming book.
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