I get asked this question a lot.
Honestly, I didn’t know. Until yesterday. Most of you are aware that Joe suffers from the abominable disease Alzheimer’s. This disease makes communication with the person who has it almost impossible. So I didn’t really know what Joe thought of his book. When we worked on it together it was mainly to get the facts and chronological order correct. Beyond that he didn’t say “yea” or “nay.” As is my way, I would cross that bridge when I got to it.
When asked, “What does Joe think about the book?” I usually said what was customary: he likes it. He says it’s the best book he’s ever read. . . of course it’s about HIM! Then I would chuckle.
Yesterday was different. Joe was sharp. He started conversations, he answered questions. He was polite! He said, “Yes please,” and “Thank you.”
Ever since the book came out he has been asking to read it. He is a little obsessed. He has his very own copy, but I have no idea where it is. I only know whenever he comes over to my house he asks if there is one he can read.
Yesterday he played a new trick on me. He said he had a dream about which point of view the book was written. Was it first or third person? Did I have a book lying around that he could look at so he could settle his mind on that issue? Coincidentally, I had a few, but they were all spoken for. Getting books has been problematic for this author. Orders on Amazon must be fulfilled first, then after any other orders I can have what I want, but only in limited quantities. So I was hesitant to let him look at any books I had. They weren’t there for him to rifle through!
There was one book though, designated to a dear close friend of the family, an older woman, and I knew she wouldn’t mind in the least if Joe thumbed through her book. I sat him down at the table, made sure his hands were clean and gave him very specific instructions: don’t lick your fingers to turn the page, don’t blow your nose over the book, and don’t crease the spine! I showed him the only allowable position for reading the book, the pages at a 90 degree angle. I know, I’m so demanding, not to mention uptight. Anyway. That man proceeded to start at the beginning and read all the way through to page 123! And often he told me what every author dreams of hearing about their writing. Did I mind? Not one bit! It was the best news all day. And better yet, reading the book the way he did revived his memories. He couldn’t believe all the things he had forgotten. Over and over he said in utter amazement how he was reliving it. I asked him if this was a good thing or a bad thing, and he responded, “It’s good. I have my memories back.” Now if that doesn’t break your heart, I don’t know what will. Right there I was so happy he had his book. It’s the only thing that helps him remember his past. Now I can say with all confidence that the book has Joe’s wholehearted stamp of approval.
Joe Absorbed in his book The Altered I
Last night the three of us talked about Joe’s active role in upcoming book signing events. I warned Joe that those books wouldn’t be there for him to read through. Paul laughed and said, “We can market them as pre-read by Joe.”
Later I said to Paul that this was a good day with Joe. That we need to hold onto this memory of him so that when the disease makes Joe behave in a way that is challenging we will think of something positive. Joe is brilliant, sweet, adorable, funny, and charming. I hope the readers will see that in his book and think of him in those terms.