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Wednesday, May 16,2012

Frightening and funny

Louise Krug's dreams of a glamorous career were curtailed by a crisis

by Bill Castanier

Louise Krug had just started her dream life with a college degree, a new job, glam clothes, a wonderful and handsome boyfriend and a magazine assignment chasing Britney Spears. She was looking forward to the beautiful life California had to offer.

Until, that is, a brain bleed left her with double vision, facial paralysis, numbness on her left side and other maladies that would steal both her classic good looks and the future she envisioned.

Krug has written a fast-paced, introspective memoir that is alternately harrowing and hilariously funny, addressing her physical and psychological recovery from the trauma that would leave her forever changed. “Louise: Amended” is like something Chelsea Handler would write if she had a brain bleed.

It can be very dark, such as when Krug describes painful medical procedures and even more wrenching when she chronicles the growing and inevitable separation from her boyfriend, Claude. Or it can be laugh-out-loud funny, as when she goes off to a bar with someone identified as “Hat Guy.”

In a phone interview, Krug said writing the book was “a good way for me to reexamine what happened.” The Holland native said an early version of the memoir was completed for her masters of fine arts thesis at the University of Kansas.

While Krug was recovering from surgery to repair the brain damage, her mother read Ann Patchett’s “Truth and Beauty” to her. Patchett’s book details a close friendship with a severely disfigured roommate, and it inspired Krug to write her own memoir.

“Patchett is telling the story of a friendship,” Krug said, “and I liked what she was saying about the meaning of beauty and friendship.”

Krug also details how her divorced parents and siblings rallied to see her through her most critical moments of recovery.

“I was really proud of them — no, I was really impressed by them,” she said.

The author, who is completing her Ph.D., said the hardest part of writing the book was “getting over my ego and admitting things that made me look bad. Finally, I got the hang of it and just let it go.”

She said she first tried writing the book in first-person but that it was “kind of boring.” She then used rotating points of view, which allowed her to provide insights into what her family was going through. For Claude, she used a fictional approach about what she suspected he might do, say and think.

Most who have read books similar to Krug’s — and there are many of them — about overcoming trials and tribulations will find her voice refreshing and disarming. She’s young (only 28), married with a young daughter and knows a little about how to find happiness

In her epilogue, Krug shows the journey isn’t over, as she confronts lingering questions about her life and looks. But she’s coming closer. She writes, “I’ve realized that perfection is not what pleases the eye. What pleases the eye is what pleases the heart.”


Louise Krug

7 p.m. Thursday, May 17

Schuler Books & Music

2820 Towne Center Blvd., Lansing

Free

(517) 316-7495

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