Shadowchild: A Meditation on Love and Loss

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9780374261917: Shadowchild: A Meditation on Love and Loss

Missing word. A woman who buries her husband is called a widow, a man left behind without his wife, a widower. A child without parents is an orphan. But what do you call the father and mother of a child that has died?

Shadowchild is an extraordinarily moving yet unsentimental examination of a parent's grief over the loss of a child. P.F. Thomése's baby was just a few weeks old when she died of a brain hemorrhage, and suddenly a piece of his life and heart was gone. But how do you recall that which is missing? How can we replace that which is lost? In powerful prose, he describes how he and his wife prepared for her birth; he remembers the first night they all three slept in the same bed. And after her death, Thomése finds himself desperately seeking the appropriate words to express his desolation. But he feels that "If she still exists anywhere, then it's in language." And so he begins to search for a new language to describe a grief that is too terrible to fit into everyday words.

At once a declaration of love, an elegy and a self-examination, Shadowchild is a profoundly moving mediation on love, death and personal tragedy.

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About the Author:

P. F. Thomése was born in 1958 in the Netherlands. He has written several novels, novellas, and short stories. He received the AKO Literature Prize in 1991 for his debut short story collection, Zuidland.

From Publishers Weekly:

Awoman who lives longer than her husband is called a widow; a man who remains behind without his wife, a widower. A child without parents is an orphan. But what do you call the father and mother of a child who has died?" Nearly all writings about deceased children are poignant, but they rarely have the power to move readers as far beyond the sentimental response as Dutch novelist Thomése does in this small, grand book. Brief enough to be read in a sitting, it is as resonant as a poem. One pauses and lingers after each of the 50 meditations, some as brief as "Panic" ("The smell of clean sheets, the bedroom window open. A new day. The sunlight coming in and finding her nowhere"). Thomése's prose is spare and beautiful, as he describes the ambulance, the hospital, the death (from a brain hemorrhage) and the empty nursery. He shares, rather than parades, literary and musical references: a thought of Heidegger's; an echo of Orpheus; a challenge to Goethe ("Your poem should not have ended with 'In his arms the child lay dead.' That's how it should have started"); a moment when Charlie Parker's music threw "open all the windows in the house and blew out all the evil spirits, one by one." Grieving parents will find a knowing companion in Thomése, but even those who haven't experienced such trauma will find this evocative book a treasure.
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Thomese, P. F.
Published by Farrar, Straus and Giroux (2005)
ISBN 10: 0374261911 ISBN 13: 9780374261917
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Thomese, P. F.
Published by Farrar, Straus and Giroux
ISBN 10: 0374261911 ISBN 13: 9780374261917
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