Larry works in an Albuquerque nursing home and like many of its residents he is not thrilled to be at this last-stop warehouse for old folks. Trained as a counselor, he hardly notices the human spirit flowing around him until he meets Bill Foster.
Published: November 2014
Larry works in an Albuquerque nursing home and like many of its residents he is not thrilled to be at this last-stop warehouse for old folks. Trained as a counselor, he hardly notices the human spirit flowing around him until he meets Bill Foster. Bill, a successful clinical psychologist, is lying comatose after a left hemisphere stroke, as Philip Cook, one of his oldest patients, leans over the hospital bed listening intently to his inarticulate attempts to speak.
Through Philip’s uncanny understanding of Bill’s incoherent mutterings, an unlikely collaboration begins, linking the unconfident Larry with the experienced but speech-damaged Dr. Bill. That summer, with Larry’s wife and son out of town, Bill’s counseling practice helps renew Larry confidence as a therapist and--at the nursing home—he starts to see residents, families, and fellow staff as fellow human beings.
But old traumas (the drowning death of his brother and his misplaced blame of his father) run deep: each step seems to open the door for further falls from grace.
This is a novel about disability and the human depth that is left behind after the loss of physical and cognitive faculties. It is also a book about the power of forgiveness.
About the author:
Before coming to Albuquerque, New Mexico, where he now reside with his wife and two sons, Michael Gray lived in Montreal, Canada and published short stories and poetry in the Antigonish and Wascana Reviews. He traveled in Europe for six months and South America for three months, but it was while working on farms, ranches, and an open-pit copper mine in Canada that he heard a door into the future creak open.
Michael’s memoir, The Flying Caterpillar (ABQ Press, 2012), as well as being a travel log of his life to-date, gives an account of his two decades with Friends in Time and explores the teachings and encounters which have proved to be valuable for a lifetime. In 2012, he also published Asleep at the Wheel of Time (ABQ Press), a SF novel about Whales, Aliens and humans. Both these books express his concern about the state of planet Earth in light of our accumulating indifference to the plight of our only home.
Michael’s newest novel, Falling on the Bright Side draws directly on his experience working with the disabled (For more than five years he’s also been President and sometimes ED of Pathways Academy, a school for kids with Autism and other learning issues). Falling tells the story of people who have been shelved in nursing home warehouses, or have otherwise lost their livelihood and value to society, and the narrative arc explores how the human dimension continues to shine in these human beings.
In his own life Michael has discovered that people who are in the process of losing their identities, occupations, and old friends are able to help him recognize a deeper truth about the human predicaments they share. This is a human truth which he also finds celebrated in Eastern spiritual teachings. Encountering the core of humanity in people whose familiar lives have dissolved, he seeks to learn their secret while he still has time on my side.
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