To Love What Is

A Marriage Transformed

Alix Kates Shulman

Farrar, Straus and Giroux Paperbacks

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One day it happens: the dreaded event that will change your life forever. For Alix Kates Shulman, it happened in a remote seaside cabin on a coastal Maine island—where the very isolation that makes for a perfect artist’s retreat can also put life at risk. Shulman woke to find that her beloved husband had fallen the nine feet from their sleeping loft and was lying on the floor below, deathly still. Though Scott would survive, he suffered an injury that left him seriously brain impaired. He was the same—but not the same.

In this elegant memoir, Shulman describes the ongoing anxieties and risks—and surprising rewards—she experiences as she reorganizes her world to care for her husband and discovers that what might have seemed a life sentence to some has evolved into something unexpectedly rich.

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The Accident

On a moonless summer night my husband fell nine feet from a sleeping loft to the floor and did not die.

He did not die, though he was seventy-five years old and the accident happened in a remote seaside cabin inaccessible by road, on a Maine coastal island that has no doctor on call, much less a hospital.

He did not die, though X-rays taken several hours later showed that he had broken most of his ribs and both feet; punctured both lungs, causing perilous internal bleeding; and suffered so many blood clots in his brain that

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Praise for To Love What Is

“An extraordinary and important book.” —Oliver Sacks

“Remarkable . . . [A] brave, elegiac work. Both hopeful and terrifying, it’s a tale of love’s resilience, but also its limits in conquering the sudden cruelties of life . . .A haunting meditation on a love more enduring than the body or mind, and . . . a potent reminder that even an irreparably altered life is still a life to be cherished.” —Renee Graham, The Boston Globe

“This is the story of great love forged when death almost parts you and then doesn’t—a book that will take its place next to those slender volumes that become tattered and torn as I read and reread and reread, as if my own life depended on it. To Love What Is is Alix Kates Shulman’s masterpiece.” —Honor Moore, author of The Bishop’s Daughter

“This remarkable book speaks openly and honestly and with exquisite poignancy about the durability of love.” —Andrew Solomon, author of The Noonday Demon


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About the Author

Alix Kates Shulman

Alix Kates Shulman is the author of four novels, including Memoirs of an Ex-Prom Queen; two previous memoirs, including the award-winning Drinking the Rain; and two books on the anarchist Emma Goldman. 

Alix Kates Shulman

Marion Ettinger
Alix Kates Shulman

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Available Formats and Book Details

To Love What Is
A Marriage Transformed
Alix Kates Shulman

Trade Paperback

Trade Paperback
Farrar, Straus and Giroux
Farrar, Straus and Giroux Paperbacks
September 2009
Trade Paperback
ISBN: 9780374532055
ISBN10: 0374532052
5 1/4 x 7 15/16 inches, 192 pages, Notes
$14.00

e-Book Agency

e-Book Agency
Farrar, Straus and Giroux
August 2010
e-Book Agency
ISBN: 9781429972505
ISBN10: 1429972505
192 pages
$9.99
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Farrar, Straus and Giroux

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