The Left Hand is the Dreamer, a novel by Paul West





Paul West Review




“I FELL, CAME CRASHING DOWN. Injuring my leg, immobilizing my right arm and paralyzing my right cheek. Not so much an accident as an insult to half my body, which after a few days of elementary care turned into a full blown stroke, leaving me mumbling, unable to speak.

Look at him, Diane whispered, he’s having another stroke. One glance at my dreadful pallor sufficed—coupled with my frozen eyes and expressionless face. In what seemed like no time at all, I was flat on my back beneath a colossal lamp hearing Diane speak with the doctor about my condition.

What caused this idiot to go full tilt, stumbling catastrophically when merely crossing my living room in pursuit of a book titled Therapies? Feeling for the book’s exaggerated title? Just possibly, but I doubt it. More likely a mere instant of mental vacancy leading to unstable footing. The millisecond for all time.

To have taken the plunge from one dimension to another may seem upward gesture, a gesture of joy. But not so. For me it was rather a fatal swoon towards oblivion.”

*  *  *

So begins Paul West’s latest book, his fiftieth, The Left Hand is the Dreamer, the story of West’s three weeks spent recovering from a near fatal stroke at Garden Court a rehabilitation home in Palm Beach, Florida. The book is fantastically engaging, witty, and, as all West books, brilliantly written.

We camp with Paul as he struggles to regain the use of his whole right side, an arm and leg that won’t work and a mouth trapped in mumbles. What he hasn’t lost though is his keen mind and fantastic wit. In between eating, sleeping, and therapy sessions, the embattled author slowly prints out the words that became this book with his left hand. Following his progress we feel what he feels and almost want to cheer when he records something as simple getting out of bed by himself.

To quote the author Sven Birkerts: “Out on those risky ledges where language is continually fought for and renewed—that’s where Paul West breathes the thin, necessary air.”

The cover is a watercolor painting by West, one of more than a hundred paintings and collages that he has made, using only his left hand, since his stroke. Twenty-five of these are reproduced in black and white at the end of the book.

*  *  *

PAUL WEST is the author of 50 books. He has received awards from the American Academy and Institute of Arts and Letters, the Lannan Prize for Fiction and the Halperin-Kaminsky Prize. He was named a Literary Lion by the New York Public Library and a Chevalier of the Order of Arts and Letters by the French Government. He has also been a runner-up for the National Book Circle Award and the Nobel Prize for Literature.. 



Onager Editions, Ithaca, NY

2012 / $12.00 USD / ISBN  978-1-60047-807-9

 Availavle from Amazon, Barnes & Noble, Ingram and your local bookseller

Views: 47


You need to be a member of Book Blogs to add comments!

Join Book Blogs

Comment by Pearson Oldmitz on December 29, 2012 at 10:21pm

Here is a link to a book trailer for Diane Ackerman's "One Hundred Names of Love." The book was a 2012 finalist for the Pulitzer Prize.  

Diane is Paul West's wife, and Paul appears in this video. The book is about Diane's struggle to help Paul recover from his stroke.

Need help?





At NetGalley, we like to take a moment at Thanksgiving to thank you for your loyalty and support. We are grateful to have a dedicated community of Book Advocates who love reading and recommending – you truly help new books succeed! By the end of this year, your enthusiasm for reading & recommending will mean […]

Blogger Spotlight – Romance Edition

Blog name: Straight Shootin’ Book Reviews Blog URL: http://www.straightshootinbookreviews.comYour name: Mandy – Str8shooterMLet’s begin with your blogger origin story - how long have you been blogging about books and why did you start?I’ve been blogging for almost two and a half years, which is really hard to believe. It all started in March of 2012 […]

Cover Love – November Edition

November Edition We’ve rounded up five covers we love, and we hope you will too. We’ve also gathered all of your cover votes from this month, and your most loved cover is… THE PASSENGER by Lisa Lutz! Click on each cover to read the full description, request the title, and “Like” the cover if you […]

© 2015   Created by Tarah Theoret.   Powered by

Badges  |  Report an Issue  |  Terms of Service