The Beauty of Dusk By Frank Bruni
Book/Novel Author: Frank Bruni
Book/Novel Title: The Beauty of Dusk
From New York Times columnist and bestselling author Frank Bruni comes a wise and moving memoir about aging, affliction, and optimism after partially losing his eyesight.One morning in late 2017, New York Times columnist Frank Bruni woke up with strangely blurred vision. He wondered at first if some goo or gunk had worked its way into his right eye. But this was no fleeting annoyance, no fixable inconvenience. Overnight, a rare stroke had cut off blood to one of his optic nerves, rendering him functionally blind in that eye—forever. And he soon learned from doctors that the same disorder could ravage his left eye, too. He could lose his sight altogether. In The Beauty of Dusk, Bruni hauntingly recounts his adjustment to this daunting reality, a medical and spiritual odyssey that involved not only reappraising his own priorities but also reaching out to, and gathering wisdom from, longtime friends and new acquaintances who had navigated their own traumas and afflictions. The result is a poignant, probing, and ultimately uplifting examination of the limits that all of us inevitably encounter, the lenses through which we choose to evaluate them and the tools we have for perseverance. Bruni’s world blurred in one sense, as he experienced his first real inklings that the day isn’t forever and that light inexorably fades, but sharpened in another. Confronting unexpected hardship, he felt more blessed than ever before. There was vision lost. There was also vision found.
Author seemed to be a bit self-indulgent. Not sure his name dropping, and political opinions offered much real introspection. I was extremely disappointed, but I doubt this author would care.
It can be startling to have an author suddenly acknowledge that you’re there as a reader. Just as I was beginning to worry that journalist Frank Bruni’s The Beauty of Dusk, his memoir about a stroke that caused blindness in one eye, was going to descend into too much cliché, he addressed that concern head-on and more or less took me to task: “Strangely, I began to feel more alive, more attuned, more appreciative. Did that make me a cliché? You bet, and you should brace yourself for a boatload of clichés and jump ship if they’re going to bother you. They shouldn’t, because a small part of what I came to appreciate was that clichés are clichés — pervasive, enduring, axiomatic — for a reason: they’re kissing cousins with verities, down-market analogues of insights. When you’re given lemons, you can indeed make lemonade, and that was a big part of my education which included the confirmation that the grass is always greener on the other side of the fence, that clouds have silver linings, and that the night is darkest before dawn, although my story isn’t about dawn. It’s about dusk. It’s about those first real inklings that the day isn’t forever and that light inexorably fades. It’s about a rising and then peaking consciousness that you’re on borrowed and finite time. It’s about shifting temperature, an altered ambiance.”After that, for a while I had little trouble going along with him, especially when his language landed far from cliché: “Ever check out pictures of an optic nerve? After my stroke, I appraised a Louvre’s worth of them. And I couldn’t get over how fragile it seemed, this sender thread, fed by about a dozen minuscule blood vessels, that tethers the back of the eye to the brain and alone decides whether you get to see the setting of the sun or the rising of a soufflé.”Unfortunately, it soon becomes clear that Bruni has taken material that might have made a serviceable magazine article and bloated it into a book, with a series of anecdotal case histories that repeat each other and have the effect of that dread inspirational/motivational speaker you remember having to endure on the program at a conference.Some passages just plain drone: “Sometimes an ending is a new beginning. Sometimes a limit or a loss is, as I mentioned in an earlier chapter (We winced then too, Frank), a gateway to experiments that you wouldn’t have sought, skills that you wouldn’t have acquired, insights that you wouldn’t have gleaned. You just have to allow for that prospect and finesse that perspective.” At one point, I’m sorry, but I turned away from the book, stared into space, and found myself fondly recalling the way years ago some undergraduate classmates and I enjoyed fracturing bromides. (Life is just a bowl of cherry pits. Outside every silver lining there’s a cloud. Notice how ofter the grass is brown on both sides of the fence. We are the victims of our fates. Sometimes an ending is just, you know, kaput.)
I’ve been a fan of Frank Bruni for many years, first when he was the food critic for The New York Times and even more so when he joined their editorial board and wrote various columns.I had enjoyed his book, Born Round; and through his essays I’d learned he had developed some vision issues and was aware he’d moved from New York City to accept a professorship at UNC Chapel Hill.This book combined his trials after a stroke he suffered, which left him with impaired vision in one eye and the possibility he may some day go blind.He covers the developing issues with his eye and covers the beginning of the Covid pandemic in New York City.Instead of sinking into despair and sorrow and helplessness, he makes it his mission to familiarize himself with others who face various adversities; and he learns how they coped and reached hope in their lives through positive mental attitudes.Perhaps the most rewarding part of the book is when he described meeting, loving, and adopting his dog, Regan. The descriptions of his time with her and their adventures and what loving an animal can do to one’s life are warm, affectionate, and inspiring.I’m approaching my 75th year on earth, and reading Frank Bruni’s book helped me appreciate what I have and learn to find beautiful moments in life.
I appreciated the first parts of the book which discuss the emotional aspects of coping and coming to terms with sudden injury and subsequent disability. After that he veered off track onto his dog and Central Park and worst of all–into politics.
A gently moving account of NYT writer Frank Bruni’s account with a stroke that damages his optic nerve in his right eye and has a 40% chance of damaging his left eye. As a writer, he wonders what it is like being blind and still write. He talks with people who have become disabled. Good read.
Frank Bruni knocks it out if the park relating his life story. An uplifting read about life and the road blocks it delivers.