Wednesday, April 20, 2011

Amy Ellis Nutt's "Shadows Bright as Glass"

Amy Ellis Nutt has been a staff writer at The Star-Ledger newspaper in Newark, NJ since November 1997. She is also an adjunct professor at Columbia University Graduate School of Journalism.

Nutt was awarded the 2011 Pulitzer Prize for feature writing for her story “The Wreck of the Lady Mary,” which ran as a 20-page special section of The Star-Ledger in November 2010.

She applied the “Page 99 Test” to her new book, Shadows Bright as Glass: The Remarkable Story of One Man's Journey from Brain Trauma to Artistic Triumph, and reported the following:
Shadows Bright as Glass is all about the search for the soul. Jon Sarkin lost himself after a devastating stroke -- and he knew it. He was that rarest of individuals. He’d been radically altered in body, mind and spirit, and yet he understood intimately, painfully, all that he’d lost. His obsession with creating art was in part an acknowledgment of that loss and a desperate, almost primal attempt to figure out what had happened to his brain. Throughout the book, Jon’s experiences, his search for himself, mirrors the strange journey that science has taken in trying to answer that most fundamental of questions: Who are we? Page 99 takes the reader into Jon’s world several months after his stroke, when he’s finally returned home. Instead of his staid, button-down workaholic personality, he is flamboyant and impulsive and drawn to color. He is self-absorbed, wrapped up mostly in his own head, in part because the way he experiences the world, post-stroke, is so different from his former self. He is partly deaf, has constant double vision, cannot process multiple ideas simultaneously and has an almost child-like ability to be stimulated by the simplest things.

Excerpt from p. 99:
On another occasion, before he gave up driving, Sarkin decided to go to the florist himself. After spending $100 on crocus, tulip, an daffodil bulbs, he returned home and dug a couple of dozen small, randomly placed holes in the steeply banked backyard.

“Jon, what are you doing,” Kim asked?

“Don’t worry. It’s a surprise. Just wait until spring.”

In April, May and June, the yard exploded with a new color nearly every day – sudden bursts of lavender, yellow, orange, and red shooting out of the ground like slow-motion fireworks.
Learn more about the book and author at Amy Ellis Nutt's website.

--Marshal Zeringue