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The Mere Weight of Words Paperback – 30 Jun 2012

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A Whole New World of Words 20 July 2012
By Kat Collins - Published on
Format: Paperback
Carissa Halston's novella is a deeply felt tale of fathers and daughters which brings us up against the limits of language. Meredith, known as simply Mere, is a linguist who grapples with the reinvention of her career after suffering from facial palsy, then the reinvention of herself when faced with the potential loss of her father, from whom she's been estranged for nearly twenty years. When Meredith initially hears that her estranged father has been diagnosed with Alzheimer's, she says nothing. When Eliot, a long-time friend of her father's, calls and asks her to see him, she hangs up. But once she runs out of ways to say no, Mere agrees to visit, reasoning that he'll soon lose all memory of their estrangement. He'll forget about her paralysis. He'll forget about their fights. He'll forget that he ever stopped loving her mother and be the person Mere adored. She leaves her house certain she'll say something she can't take back and arrives at his knowing he'll someday forget she visited at all.As her glamorous film-director father slowly recedes into Alzheimers, Meredith tries again to reconnect with him. At the same time she considers the effects of his legacy on her own relationships.

Mere is a source of soul-deep strength and sharp-tongued wit belying a vulnerable tenderness underneath. She is terrified of losing who she was as she can no longer pursue her dreams of being a professional linguist and phoneticist. She is terrified, hurt, and angry at her mother and father, yet longs for her father's approval. She banters acidly back and forth against Peter, her rock and her nemesis, who she eventually moves in with because it's practical (she won't admit to herself or him that she loves him).

In language honest and heartfelt, Carissa Halston presents Mere's life with and without her father, and how Mere fills his absence with worry, wit, and words. Halston s tough-minded tenderness is sharp-tongued and subtle and the svelte vigor of her prose is sure to move her readers to countless moments of recognition and ahas.It's a struggle at times to get through this story as the vocabulary is above a typical reader's level (befitting of a linguist, though). It opened my eyes to whole new worlds of words, just make sure to keep a dictionary nearby.

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