Diana Athill

Ars Memoria

The Memory Chalet


William Heinemann 226pp £16.99 order from our bookshop

This book is simultaneously awe-inspiring and almost too painful to bear.

The pain is due to the fact that as he wrote it Tony Judt was dying from an atrocious illness, ALS (amyotrophic lateral sclerosis), which gradually imprisons a mind in a body so totally paralysed that breathing can only be done with the help of a machine and speech is impossible. That small amount of explanation is distressing enough. The precise account of what it is like to experience ALS, given by Judt at the start of the book, is horrifying.

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