Review of Take Me Home – Parkinson’s, My Father, Myself; Jonathan Taylor; Granta Books 2007; pp 274
– Shana Susan Ninan
Having had a senile, Alzheimer’s affected 90-year-old at home, I can very well connect with Jonathan Taylor’s memoir, Take Me Home – Parkinson’s, My Father, Myself. Even before you open the book, the severity and urgency of the disease hits you – on the cover itself is the embossed word ‘Help’, super imposed all over, several times. And after reading about 15 pages into the narrative, Jonathan’s detached pattern of writing captures you. It’s almost as if he’s talking about another family, another father. Not his own! That style of writing grabbed my attention, and stuck through all the way to the end. The incessant pleas, shouts, rants and of course the forgetfulness, is portrayed with a sense of humour, too. Where else can you read brilliantly crafted lines such as these, when his dad thought he was being kidnapped, and had to save himself:
‘Help help!’ My mother stuffs a gobstopper into his mouth. It performs its self-proclaimed function.
We think that’s paranoia over – and I look away: ‘Yes, Dad, honest, we’re taking you to a secret location, cos there are so many millionaires who’re willing to pay a ransom for you.’ …he’s found the handle and opened the car door. He’s even moving his left leg towards the space where the door was, and where now there’s tarmac whizzing underneath.
My mother shrieks. I swear. Helen looks up, tuts and yawns… My father reaches calmly for the seatbelt release, as if getting out on the M6 Junction 11, at 65mph is much like getting out for a picnic.
And there are many more interesting paragraphs that elaborate on the lives of the author and his family members, all revolving around caring for his ailing dad. Jonathan doesn’t bore you with scientific names and data; he weaves the story around actual events, places and people. Taking us to where the action is, describing in the process, how his dad reached the stage he is in, the author’s discoveries regarding his dad’s past, a son’s tireless and patient journey into his dad’s secretive life, and his understanding of his mother’s opinions about the same. Life in the 80’s and 90’s London, and the background of those who’ve migrated from the East also find a strong presence in here.
Since I’ve already read the author’s latest book Entertaining Strangers, released last year, I was pretty familiar with his manner of writing and the humour-filled sentences that vividly bring out the positive. Here’s to a book that’s engrossing, endearing, and definitely engaging.