One Hundred Names for Love

Writer Diane Ackerman's husband was a novelist, a poet and a lover of language before he suffered a massive stroke. It left him able to utter only a single syllable. The story of how his wife helped him rediscover language and how their love changed.

When writer Diane Ackerman's husband of 35 years suffered a massive stroke, he lost his command of language. In the beginning, he could only utter one syllable, "mem." And for Paul West, a writer, poet, and professor, that was a devastating blow. Over the next six years, his wife refused to give up hope. She saturated him with language and never left his side. Now Diane Ackerman has written about the experience in a new memoir titled One Hundred Names for Love: A Stroke, a Marriage, and the Language of Healing. In it, she shares the touching story of their marriage and explores the role of becoming a caregiver.


A rare treat this morning—the opportunity to listen to Diane Ackerman tell the story of her husband's stroke and his recovery, including the loss and recovery of language. I appreciate the insights into stroke, the love and concern for her husband, and the support that was recounted, and I especially need to be more sensitive to understanding the caregiver's life after the stroke of a spouse. In the story that was told It was good to hear the way Ackerman debunked the belief that functions not recovered during the first three months after a stroke would not be recovered at all, and I loved the repeated message of maintaining hope for and confidence in the patient's recovery and the pet names that Paul developed for Diane. Though I have regained my speech, I envy the way Ackerman encouraged her husband to write the story of his stroke experience. I still have a desire to capture my stroke experience in writing, and I am intrigued by this effort, by Jill Taylor's book, and by The Diving Bell and the Butterfly.

I've already been to the Kindle Store to get this new book.