Monday, August 1, 2011

George Estreich to Read from Memoir

We hope you can join us Tuesday night (August 2nd) at 7 pm to hear Corvallis author George Estreich read from his recently published memoir, The Shape of the Eye: Down Syndrome, Family, and the Stories We Inherit.

When his younger daughter, Laura, was born, her appearance presented a puzzle: did the shape of her eyes indicate Down Syndrome, or the fact that she has a Japanese grandmother? In this powerful memoir, Estreich tells his daughter's story, reflecting on her inheritance -- from the literal legacy of her genes, to the family history that precedes her, to the Victorian physician John Landon Down's diagnostic error of "Mongolian Idiocy." Against this backdrop, Laura Estreich takes her place in the family as a unique child, quirky and real, loved for everything ordinary and extraordinary about her.

The Shape of the Eye is predominantly about raising his youngest daughter. But, in the author's words, it is also about "fly-fishing, heart surgery, family, the history and meaning of “Mongolian idiocy,” genetic engineering, prenatal diagnosis, what it’s like to be stared at, feeding a child with a tube, made-up signs for French fries, and the way Down syndrome can become sort of ordinary."

Tracy Daugherty, author of the Oregon-Book-Award-winning biography, Hiding Man: A Biography of Donald Barthelme, described the book as "a splendid, stimulating, and extremely moving account of what it means to be a family, what it means to be human.” Physician and writer Abraham Verghese (Cutting for Stone, My Own Country: A Doctor's Story, and The Tennis Partner: A Doctor's Story of Friendship and Loss) says, “This is a poignant, beautifully written and intensely moving memoir, and I think only one writer in the world, George Estreich, could possibly have pulled this off. It will become part of the canon of narratives that are studied and taught in medical humanities courses.” Kim Edwards, author of The Memory Keeper's Daughter said "The Shape of the Eye taught me a great deal. It is a story I found myself thinking about long after I'd finished the final pages.

Estreich's first book was a collection of poems, Textbook Illustrations of the Human Body, which won the Rhea and Seymour Gorsline Prize from Cloudbank Books in 2003.

He was born in New York City and received a BA from the University of Virginia and an MFA in poetry from Cornell. After years of teaching freshman composition, he quit to become a full-time stay-at-home dad. He and his wife, an associate professor in the College of Pharmacy at Oregon State University, have two daughters and a dog named Jet.

Please join us on Tuesday if you can!

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