In conversation with Christine Hyung-Oak Lee
Growing up as the daughter of a dedicated surgeon, Elizabeth L. Silver felt an unquestioned faith in medicine. When her six-week-old daughter, Abby, was rushed to the Neonatal Intensive Care Unit with sudden seizures, and scans revealed a serious brain bleed, her relationship to medicine began to change.
The Tincture of Time is Silver's gorgeous and haunting chronicle of Abby's first year. It's a year of unending tests, doctors' opinions, sleepless nights, promising signs and steps backward, and above all, uncertainty: The mysterious circumstances of Abby's hospitalization attract dozens of specialists, none of whom can offer a conclusive answer about what went wrong or what the future holds. As Silver explores what it means to cope with uncertainty as a patient and parent and seeks peace in the reality that Abby's injury may never be fully understood, she looks beyond her own story for comfort, probing literature and religion, examining the practice of medicine throughout history, and reporting the experiences of doctors, patients, and fellow caretakers. The result is a brilliant blend of personal narrative and cultural analysis, at once a poignant snapshot of a parent's struggle and a wise meditation on the reality of uncertainty, in and out of medicine, and the hard-won truth that time is often its only cure.
Heart-wrenching, unflinchingly honest, and beautifully written, this is a powerful story of parenthood, an astute examination of the boundaries of medicine, and an inspiring reminder of life's precariousness.
Elizabeth L. Silver is the author of the novel The Execution of Noa P. Singleton, which was published in seven languages. Her writing has been published in McSweeney's, The Huffington Post, The Rumpus, The Millions, and elsewhere. A graduate of the University of Pennsylvania, the MA Programme in Creative Writing at the University of East Anglia in England, and Temple University, Beasley School of Law, Silver has worked as an attorney in Texas and California and as an adjunct instructor of English literature and composition at Drexel and St. Joseph's Universities. She lives with her family in Los Angeles.