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Comics & Graphic Novels General

Dying for Attention

A Graphic Memoir of Nursing Home Care

illustrated by Susan MacLeod

Conundrum Press
Initial publish date
Oct 2021
General, Biography & Memoir, Contemporary Women
  • Paperback / softback

    Publish Date
    Oct 2021
    List Price

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When Susan MacLeod accompanied her 90-year-old mother through a labyrinthine long-term care system, it was a nine-year journey navigating a government within a heart in a system without compassion. Her family, much like the system, erected walls rather than opening arms. She found herself involuntarily placed at the pivot point between her frail, elderly mother's need for love and companionship, the system's inability to deliver, and her brother's indifference. She had also spent three years as a government spokesperson enthusiastically defending the very system she now experienced as brutally cold.

MacLeod's tone is defined by a gentle, self-effacing humour touched by exasperation for the absurdities and the newfound wisdom around expectations. Dying for Attention, is the latest memoir in the graphic medicine field, shelved alongside Roz Chast's Can't We Talk About Something More Pleasant? or Sarah Leavitt's Tangles. MacLeod includes helpful tips for communicating with nursing homes as well as background research to provide a larger context for this under-discussed experience.

About the author

Susan MacLeod is an artist writing about the world of long-term care. Her illustrations have been published by Kaiser Permanente, Halifax Magazine, and The Globe & Mail, as well as for countless commissions. She holds a Bachelor of Fine Arts degree from NSCAD University and a Master of Fine Arts in Creative Non-Fiction from the University of King's College. She still misses her mother.

Susan MacLeod's profile page

Editorial Reviews

"Susan MacLeod takes an unflinching look at the reality of caring for an elderly parent, demonstrating in no uncertain terms what a monumental and life-changing journey this is for both parent and child. MacLeod documents the experience from all angles -- dissecting the broader culture that devalues seniors and also turning her sharp gaze inward, at her family history and at herself. This is a valuable book for anyone who's supporting their parents or who is facing their own mortality -- i.e. pretty much everyone. It's a handbook for tackling hard things head on, with courage, love and a strong sense of humour."

--Sarah Leavitt, creator of Agnes, Murderess

"A heartfelt exploration of aging and family trauma and a scathing critique of a society that values productivity above life, youth above age, and individual responsibility above collective rights. An important, timely read as we enter an era of aging populations amidst crises of care and funding." --Booklist, Starred Review

"Caring for an elderly patient is an unusual subject for a graphic novel. The very existence of Dying For Attention shows the versatility of the medium; its content shows its power... A remarkable memoir." --Mike Donachie, The Toronto Star

"Someone has to do something about long term care before I get there! Susan is off to a great start with her honesty, humour and experience."

--Robin Duke, SCTV, Women Fully Clothed

"[In Dying for Attention], Susan tells the story of her mother's journey into long-term care. But it's more than that - it's really a family story, and there are so many questions and tensions, and Susan edges her way towards answers and reconciliation. She never quite finds them, but the journey is the story... It's funny, it's heartfelt, it's sad, it's honest and oh so real. I couldn't put it down."

-- Graham Steele, The Effective Citizen

"MacLeod's book offers insights into the search for wellness in general through self-discovery and an appreciation of what it takes to live a worthwhile life."

--Comics Grinder

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