Wednesday, November 21, 2012

Book Review: You Don't Look Like Anyone I Know

Everyone forgets people's names on occasion, sometimes we don't recognize people we've only met once or twice or after many years.  What would it be like to never recognize anyone?  To go through life walking by your father in a restaurant, running up to a complete stranger in an airport thinking it was your boyfriend, thinking your stepsons were malicious teens?  That is the life that Heather Sellers describes in her book You don't look like anyone I know.  Heather has the rare disorder of face blindness, or Prosopagnosia.
In her book, Heather describes a family that an outsider would consider highly dysfunctional, but for a child who knows no other way it was normal for her.  She really didn't fully grasp how dysfunctional her childhood was until she went to her high school reunion.  Her boyfriend and his children accompanied her back to her home town which gave her the opportunity to see her parents from the outside.  Her eyes were opened to their strangeness.  At the reunion she realized that she didn't know anyone there, but they all knew her.  Her old boyfriend asked about her mother and asked if she was a paranoid schizophrenic.  Heather had not thought about her mother in those terms, but started to put things together.  She researched schizophrenia and realized that her mother had many of the symptoms.  While doing the research she came across the term face blindness and a lightbulb went off.  She researched that as well and realized that she suffered from it.
Heather's account is fascinating, not just in how she coped with face blindness, but the reactions of the people she told.
On a local note, Heather is a professor of literature at Hope College.
You Don't Look Like Anyone I Know: A True Story of Family, Face Blindness, and Forgiveness You Don't Look Like Anyone I Know: A True Story of Family, Face Blindness, and Forgiveness
By Sellers, Heather
2011-10 - Riverhead Books
9781594485404 Check Our Catalog

A "poignant" ("Boston Globe") family memoir that gives new meaning to hindsight, insight, and forgiveness.
Heather Sellers is face-blind-that is, she has prosopagnosia, a rare neurological condition that prevents her from reliably recognizing people's faces. Growing up, unaware of the reason for her perpetual confusion and anxiety, she took what cues she could from speech, hairstyle, and gait. The truth was revealed two decades later when Heather took the man she would marry home to meet her parents and discovered the astonishing truth about her family and about herself. In this uplifting memoir, Sellers illuminates a deeper truth: that even in the most chaotic and heartbreaking of families, love may be seen and felt. …More

Other books by the same author.
Georgia Under Water: Stories Georgia Under Water: Stories
By Sellers, Heather
2001-05 - Sarabande Books
9781889330563 Check Our Catalog

Heather Seller's unpretentious, vernacular prose allows Georgia a persuasive mix of innocence and experience. These are miraculous stories of survival, perhaps even forgiveness. To some of us Georgia's life would be unthinkable. Sellers makes us believe it is well worth living.
"Heather Sellers writes delicious, dangerous prose. She starts you twenty-three floors up in condo squalor, nips across for dysfunction in Disney country, threatens incest in Hotlanta, and comes to grief on the Gulf. The dead-credible life of Georgia Jackson-ineffably sweet, thoroughly in love with her own luscious body, half in love with her lush of a father-skids at the edge of the surreal. Her story had me laughing through the lump in my throat. An original. A knockout debut."-Janet Burroway
Marketing Plans
Author tour in Sellers' hometowns in Michigan and Florida
Brochure and postcard mailings
Advertisements in key literary and trade magazines

Heather Sellers was born and raised in Orlando, Florida and received a Ph.D. in Writing from Florida State University. Her work has appeared in "Indiana Review, New Virginia Review, The Hawaii Review, The Chattahoochee Review, The Women's Review of Books", and "Sonora Review". Her story "Fla. Boys" is anthologized in "New Stories from the South, 1999: The Year's Best". She received a fellowship from the National Endowment for the Arts in 1999. She currently lives in Holland, Michigan, where she's an associate professor of English at Hope College. Excerpt From"Georgia Under Water"
From the short story, "Spurt"
I spent those days watching myself in every reflective surface known to Daytona Beach.
My knees weren't knobs anymore. My knees were lush transitions. My thighs shone golden-brown; my shins, paler, but long and strong. My ankles were slim, bony in a fetching way, my feet suddenly inches too long for my slaps and sandals. My hair swung in a shiny curtain behind me; my legs were in constant motion, counterpoint.
"You've had a growth spurt," my mother said. "Your shorts are way too short. When did this happen?"
"I think yesterday and/or the day before," I said. We were in …More

The Boys I Borrow The Boys I Borrow
By Sellers, Heather
2007-11 - New Issues Poetry Press
9781930974715 Check Our Catalog

Poetry. "Many of these sensitive, clever poems are about navigating the new waters of a non traditional family. The result is a cohesive, engaging collection in which a real heroine persona explores the often challenging terrain of the omicile"--Billy Collins. "When you open THE BOYS I BORROW, you won't find poems about angels or mythological heroines--what you'll find is life the way we live it, but more clearly seen and deeply understood than the average human can easily bear. The dramas in this book are the dramas of the life lived in the 21st century--we have trips to the fertility doctor, motorcycle rides to the Shangri-la Motel beneath a 'well hung, low slung' moon, stepsons whose 'tongues are simple antennae' and who play Nintendo, need help with their homework--in short, all of our wonderfully banal and beautiful world rendered in painterly precision and tender humor. This is a book that sustains"--Beth Ann Fennelly. …More

Drinking Girls and Their Dresses Drinking Girls and Their Dresses
By Sellers, Heather
2002-01 - Ahsahta Press
9780916272746 Check Our Catalog


Complimentary Reads
My Life, Deleted My Life, Deleted
By Bolzan, Scott
Author Bolzan, Joan
Author Rother, Caitlin
2011-10 - HarperOne
9780062025470 Check Our Catalog

The true story of a 46-year-old man who suffered permanent amnesia--losing all memories of his past, his wife and children, his likes and dislikes, and even how to navigate the pace and gadgetry of the 21st century--and fought to build a new life. 304 pp. …More

Moonwalking with Einstein: The Art and Science of Remembering Everything Moonwalking with Einstein: The Art and Science of Remembering Everything
By Foer, Joshua
2012-02 - Penguin Books
9780143120537 Check Our Catalog

An instant bestseller that is poised to become a classic, "Moonwalking with Einstein" recounts Foer's yearlong quest to improve his memory under the tutelage of top "mental athletes." He draws on cutting-edge research, a surprising cultural history of remembering, and venerable tricks of the mentalist's trade to transform our understanding of human memory. …More

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