H.M., World-Renowned Amnesia Patient, Has Died

H.M.H.M.

In 1953, Henry Gustav Molaison underwent brain surgery to ameliorate devastating epileptic seizures. The surgery removed two-thirds of his hippocampus and other sections of his medial temporal lobe. His seizures ended. However, so did his ability to form new long-term memories. For the next 55 years, Molaison became H.M., a profound amnesiac patient and the subject of groundbreaking neurological studies on the composition of the human brain and the processes of learning and memory. He knew his name and a few facts from his childhood, but aside from that, each day was a brand new life for H.M. Perhaps what we can take away from the life of Henry G. Molaison is that despite our regrets and failures in life, memory is the one thing that holds our identity together.

Featured books on amnesia, memory, and learning at the AADL include: In Search of Memory by Eric R. Kandel, The Woman Who Can't Forget by Jill Price, and The Man Who Mistook His Wife for a Hat by Oliver Sacks.

More October Films

"The true-life tragedy of Evelyn Nesbit (1884-1967) supplies the framework for French director Claude Chabrol's latest romantic thriller" -A Girl Cut in Two, writes John Anderson of The Washington Post.

The story of Evelyn Nesbit is one of glamour, money, romance, madness, and murder. Famous by her sixteenth birthday in 1900, Gibson Girl Evelyn Nesbit was the most photographed woman of her era, an iconic figure who set the standard for female beauty. Women wanted to be her. Men wanted her. When her jealous millionaire husband, Harry K. Thaw, killed her lover--celebrity architect Stanford White, she found herself at the center of the "crime of the century" and the scandal that marked the beginning of a national obsession with youth, beauty, celebrity, and sex.

Author Paula Uruburu's American Eve : Evelyn Nesbit, Stanford White, the Birth of the "It" Girl, and the Crime of the Century (2008) is highly recommended for further reading on this sensational episode in our cultural history. Filmgoers might also want to check out the The Girl in the Red Velvet Swing, a 2007 reissue of the 1955 film that dramatized the Nesbit/Thaw/White triangle.

Happy Birthday Hillary!

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With less than two weeks until Election Day, hopefully Hillary Clinton is taking some time out from supporting the Democrats to celebrate her birthday. Hillary Diane Rodham Clinton (born in Chicago, October 26, 1947) is the junior United States Senator from New York, and was a candidate for the Democratic nomination in this 2008 presidential election. She is married to Bill Clinton—the 42nd President of the United States—and was the First Lady of the United States from 1993 to 2001. If you seek more information beyond this common Hillary knowledge, check out her autobiography Living History. (Do I really need to warn you that Hillary fans will find this interesting and Hillary opponents will not find the revelations they seek?) Hillary is also the author of numerous other works including An invitation to the White House : at home with history and It takes a village : and other lessons children teach us.

Virginia Woolf's Upstairs/Downstairs

Mrs. Woolf and the Servants, Alison Light's look into the relationship between Virginia Woolf and her servants, creates a window into life at the Woolf residence. The biographical sketch focuses on two servants in particular, Nellie Boxall and Lottie Hope, who primarily worked in the kitchen. Light's portrait of Virginia Woolf's domestic kingdom highlights the divisions that starkly separated Woolf from those she employed, emphasizing that without domestic servants, Woolf would have been unable to produce her creative works. A Room of One's Own is not enough; one also needs a lot of help to clean the room.

To read Claire Messud's review from the New York Times, click here.

Happy Birthday Arthur Miller!

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Arthur Asher Miller (October 17, 1915 – February 10, 2005) was an American playwright. A prominent figure in American literature and cinema for over 61 years, he wrote a wide variety of plays, including celebrated works such as The Crucible, A View from the Bridge, All My Sons, and Death of a Salesman, which are still studied and performed worldwide. Miller was often in the public eye, most famously for refusing to give evidence against others to the House Un-American Activities Committee, being the recipient of the Pulitzer Prize for Drama (among countless other awards), and for his marriage to Marilyn Monroe. Arthur Miller is also one of the University of Michigan's most distinguished alumni and the only theater in the world to bear his name exists here in Ann Arbor, on the U of M campus.

October 14, 1964 - Nobel Peace Prize awarded to Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.

Have you ever wondered about the Nobel Prizes? We all know them as a mark of prestige, but where did those world-famous awards come from and who decides the winners? Check out The Nobel Prize : A History of Genius, Controversy, and Prestige and wonder no more. Burton Feldman relates the lively history of the awards, touring their century-long existence forward from the will of dynamite mogul Alfred Nobel. Readers will learn about the quirky preferences of the award committees, winners who really didn't deserve to win, losers that should have been winners, and amusing bits of Nobel trivia (like the awarding of the prize in medicine to the inventor of the lobotomy). For details on Martin Luther King, Jr. and his award, the AADL has a GIANT collection of MLK materials for you to peruse. Enjoy!

Noteworthy October Biopics @ a Theater Near You

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Based on the biography of Georgiana (Spencer), Duchess of Devonshire by Amanda Foreman, The Duchess is the story of an extraordinary woman who rose to fame by staying true to her passion in a world of protocol, gossip, and social rules - and paid the price. (The New York Times review)

Flash of Genius is adapted from a 1993 New Yorker article by John Seabrook, about a lone crusader doing battle with the big bad establishments - in this case, Ford and Chrysler.

In 1967, Dr. Robert W. Kearns, an electrical engineer and college professor invented and patented the intermittent windshield wiper, only to watch Ford steal the idea two year later for its redesigned Mustang. Read an early review from the Traverse City Film Festival's sneak preview of this Oscar-worthy film, starring Greg Kinnear.

Wonderful Tonight: George Harrison, Eric Clapton, and Me

She was a model, she was a muse and she was an icon. But Pattie Boyd is best known as the first wife of The Beatles’ George Harrison, and later, Eric Clapton. I had always heard about the bizarre love triangle between these three – Eric Clapton 'stealing' Pattie from George Harrison…but what really happened? Who was this beautiful woman that inspired songs like “Something,” “Layla,” and of course, “Wonderful Tonight?” In Ms. Boyd’s detailed autobiography, Wonderful Tonight, co-written with Penny Junor, you’ll find out the real story, and more - from her roots growing in up in Africa, her modeling career, and most notably, her marriages to the two legendary rock musicians .

If you have an interest in rock history, Wonderful Tonight would be a great read – especially coming from the point of view of the woman who was so behind the scenes, but such a great influence. Feel like comparing? Take a look at Eric Clapton’s book, Clapton: The Autobiography.

Book Talk at Crazy Wisdom

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Crazy Wisdom Bookstore, on Main St. in Ann Arbor, holds a monthly book discussion on a different book each month. The October 10th discussion starts at 7pm and will feature Dreams from My Father: A Story of Race and Inheritance by Barack Obama. If you’re reading the book, or plan to, this event is open to the public and requires no registration.

Get Your Dave Eggers On

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Dave Eggers was a Pulitzer Prize finalist for his first book, A Heartbreaking Work of Staggering Genius. The book is a memoir with “a few exaggerations.” Being a fan of memoirs with heart and humor, I was instantly sold on this book. It follows the story of Eggers as he is dealing with the death of both parents within the same month, becoming a parent to his younger brother and then moving across country- all at the age of 21. Chicago born Eggers (writer, editor, publisher) is known for being the founder of Might magazine, McSweeney’s and 826 Valencia. (There are now six chapters of 826 National, including a fabulous writing center in Ann Arbor.) He has since written other novels as well, including, What is the What and You Shall Know Our Velocity.

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