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Biography & Autobiography Personal Memoirs

Colonel Parkinson in Charge

A Wry Reflection on My Incurable Illness

by (author) François Gravel

translated by Shelley Pomerance

House of Anansi Press Inc
Initial publish date
Mar 2023
Personal Memoirs, People with Disabilities, Medical
  • eBook

    Publish Date
    Mar 2023
    List Price
  • Paperback / softback

    Publish Date
    Mar 2023
    List Price

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A writer’s witty and surprisingly optimistic account of learning to live with Parkinson’s disease.

When he was sixty-five, François Gravel was diagnosed with Parkinson’s disease, upending the old age he had imagined for himself. As a way of contemplating his new life with a degenerative illness, he turned to what he knew best and loved most: writing. Gravel immersed himself in research on Parkinson’s, exploring its medical history and treatments and paying close attention to the changes he experienced, all in service of learning how to best manage his symptoms throughout the advancement of this incurable disease.

With a lightness of touch that belies a difficult subject (he imagines Dr. Parkinson as a military man who has set up camp in his brain), Gravel shares what he has learned in a memoir that is at once charming, serious, and moving. He writes, “For a long time, I believed that Parkinson’s was a disease. Now, I realize it’s a philosophy course.” Colonel Parkinson in Charge is, in some ways, the companion text for this course, engaging with and demystifying a daunting subject to help readers better understand life with Parkinson’s disease.

About the authors

FRANÇOIS GRAVEL studied economics and taught at the Cégep level until 2006. He is the author of over a hundred books for children and adults, many of which have received awards and distinctions. His adult novels include Ostende and Adieu, Betty Crocker, which have both been translated into English. Adieu, Betty Crocker was a competing title in the 2014 edition of Le combat des livres, the French-language equivalent of Canada Reads. He shares his time between Montreal and Île-aux-Grues.

François Gravel's profile page

SHELLEY POMERANCE is the host of Writers Unbound on MAtv. For many years she was a presence on CBC Radio as an arts journalist and host. As a translator, Shelley has worked for the Power Plant Contemporary Art Gallery, the Montreal Museum of Fine Arts/Musée d’Orsay, Blue Metropolis Literary Festival, and many other cultural and civil society organizations. She lives in Montreal.

Shelley Pomerance's profile page

Editorial Reviews

Gravel has crafted a well-written and captivating book that is both humorous and compassionate. … Colonel Parkinson in Charge is a gentle reminder to live as best as you can because life is unpredictable. This fast-paced, funny and insightful book shows this unpredictability and will leave an impact on all those who read it.

Miramichi Reader

Poetic and provocative.

Good Morning America

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