The Living End is a tribute to an unforgettable woman, and a testimony to the way a disease can awaken an urgent desire for love and forgiveness. Told with sparkling wit and warmth, The Living End will resonate with families coping with Alzheimer's, and any reader looking for hope and inspiration.
Robert Leleux’s grandmother JoAnn was a steel magnolia, an elegant and devastatingly witty woman: quick-tongued, generous in her affections, but sometimes oddly indifferent to the emotions of those who most needed her. When JoAnn began exhibiting signs of Alzheimer’s, she’d been estranged from her daughter, Robert’s mother Jessica, for decades. As her disease progressed, JoAnn lost most of her memories, but she also forgot her old wounds and anger. She became a happy, gentler person who was finally able to reach out to her daughter in what became a strangely life-affirming experience, an unexpected blessing that gave a divided family a second chance.
“The Living End is Robert Leleux's exceptionally moving memoir about his beloved grandmother and his heroic caring for her as she slipped into the grip of Alzheimer’s. The book is at times hilarious, tender, and heartbreaking—further proof that Mr. Leleux is ripening into one of the best prose stylists in America.”
“Robert Leleux sets off on a journey that will be familiar to many Baby Boomers - watching a beloved elder painfully slipping away - but his version of the tale is singularly bittersweet, funny, and empathetic. It's a rare thing to find a memoir of illness that can be described as cheerful, but this one is that - and much more.”
—Mark Childress, author of Georgia Bottoms and Crazy in Alabama
“Robert Leleux's hilarious and poignant memoir of his fractured family takes an unexpected, wholly satisfying turn at the end: as lives ebb, memories fail, and long-withheld loves emerge.” —John Berendt, author of Midnight in the Garden of Good and Evil and The City of Falling Angels
”Not many people are able to find a silver lining in Alzheimer's, and few writers are gifted enough to make you see it and believe it. Leleux relates his family's story with love, humor, and hope.”—Margo Howard, “Dear Margo” columnist
“You will never forgive me if you don't read this book and you will never forget the author, Robert Leleux either. Leleux reminds us that the magic of our relatively short time on earth, only exists in a world of forgetting and forgiveness! I believe that Auntie Mame herself would have put her STAMP OF APPROVAL on this book as I have too!”
—Kathy L. Patrick, Founder of The Pulpwood Queens Book Clubs
“This spare, extraordinary book by turns splits the sides and breaks the heart, but it is the healing vibration of laughter you're left with — what comes when one sees existence whole and luminous, and with it the daunting logic of human love.”
—Honor Moore, Author of The Bishop's Daughter
“In a wonderfully engaging heart-of-the-matter voice, Robert Leleux chronicles his chic Texas grandmother's descent into the gloom of Alzheimer's. He is circumspect in recording the many indignities the disease brings and equally faithful to praise the joys of a happy marriage, of good wigs and zinger punch lines. Leleux's writing is as bright and elegant as one of his grandmother's hats, his love of family and faith in their enduring strength a rare and refreshing thing.” —Janis Owens, author of The Schooling of Claybird Catts
“Robert Leleux tickles his way to triumph yet again. With his trademark wit and colorful southern charm, The Living End transforms Alzheimer's from a disease associated with loss into a blessing of myriad gain.”
—Josh Kilmer-Purcell, author of I Am Not Myself These Days and The Bucolic Plague
“The Living End is as funny as it is heartfelt. Robert Leleux is among the great emerging talents of his generation; I'm bowled over by the beauty of his writing.”
—Sarah Bird, author of The Yokota Officers Club and The Gap Year
“The Living End is terrific! I could not stop reading this family journey of loss, hope and redemption. With humor and poignancy, Robert Leleux does a magical job of capturing the beautiful and often complex relationship between grandparent and grandchild.”—Michael Morris, author of Slow Way Home
“A fascinating Southern tale of an estranged mother and daughter — and the unlikely fate that brings them together. Affably narrated by Robert Leleux, a man who loved both women, The Living End is a touching reminder that, ultimately, we are not defined by our memories. But our commitments to dwelling on the past and resentments can keep us from becoming the person we want to be. Even for those we love the most.”—Neil White, author of In the Sanctuary of Outcasts
"Perceptive as well as funny and poignant, Leleux’s book explains that Alzheimer’s can be a kind of gift; certainly, it allowed JoAnn to forget enough to reconcile with the daughter she hadn’t seen for decades. 'Sometimes our memories deceive us and keep us from being who we are,' said Leleux. But JoAnn herself remains memorable."--Library Journal
"The Living End" is funny and tender, and a page-turner. Robert Leleux is witty and wonderful at the putting on the southern charm. His writing is sharp and colorful, and he puts the reader in the thick of the family’s journey with vivid descriptions and dialogue.
The Living End is a reminder that, in the end, we are not defined by our memories. It’s a must-read for both entertainment and relearning some important life lessons."--EDGE
A Memoir of Forgetting and Forgiving