Stammered Songbook: A Mother’s Book of Hours
By Erwin Mortier (Belgium)
Translated from the Dutch by Paul Vincent
This lyrical, spare volume, an account of the devastation wreaked on a family by Alzheimer’s disease, is a prose poem to the author’s mother as she inexorably fades into oblivion; the book is as meandering and full of eloquent gaps as her own condition. How ironic it is that Mortier, whose astonishing gift for words is deftly expressed in Paul Vincent’s luminous translation, should be condemned to witness his mother’s gradual loss of language. Mortier’s observations on the untidiness of human existence and the ambivalence of loss are stunning and fresh.