Cohen (van Pelt), Elizabeth
COHEN (VAN PELT), Elizabeth
PERSONAL: Born June 13, 1959, in Port Crane, NY; married; children: Ava. Education: University of New Mexico, B.A., 1983; Temple University, M.A., 1987; Columbia University, M.F.A., 1990.
ADDRESSES: Home—661 Beartown Road, Port Crane, NY 13833.
CAREER: Former editorial assistant to Anna Quindlen; Binghamton Press & Sun-Bulletin, Binghamton, NY, reporter and columnist.
AWARDS, HONORS: Notable book citation, New York Times, 2003, and "Best of 2003" citation, Library Journal, both for The House on Beartown Road: A Memoir of Learning and Forgetting.
(With Lori Arviso Alvord) The Scalpel and the SilverBear: The First Navajo Woman Surgeon Combines Western Medicine and Traditional Healing, Bantam Books (New York, NY), 1999.
The House on Beartown Road: A Memoir of Learning and Forgetting, Random House (New York, NY), 2003.
The Family on Beartown Road: A Memoir of Love andCourage, Random House (New York, NY), 2004.
Contributor to periodicals, including the New York Times, Rolling Stone, Family Circle, Parenting, and Newsweek.
SIDELIGHTS: Elizabeth Cohen wrote her first book, The Scalpel and the Silver Bear: The First Navajo Woman Surgeon Combines Western Medicine and Traditional Healing, with Lori Arviso Alvord. When Alvord, who is half Navajo, returned to her small town on a reservation to practice medicine, she found that the local Navajo people were afraid of her modern treatments. In order to gain their trust, Alvord had to find a way to combine traditional Navajo healing practices with modern medicine. In this memoir, Alvord and Cohen describe how she found that combination and the outcome for her patients. A Publishers Weekly contributor noted, "This short book offers intriguing ideas about humane health care."
Cohen's second book, The House on Beartown Road: A Memoir of Learning and Forgetting, is a memoir about her father's struggle with Alzheimer's disease. Shortly after Cohen, her husband, and her infant daughter moved into a farm house in upstate New York, her father, who was suffering from the early stages of Alzheimer's disease, moved in. When her husband left his family just nine weeks later, Cohen had to manage her own life, along with that of her growing daughter and her often confused father. In The House on Beartown Road, Cohen describes the growing difficulties her father has with speaking, walking, and other day-to-day functions, while at the same time her daughter Ava is progressing in speaking, walking, feeding herself and more as she grows. A Caregiver's Home Companion contributor wrote, "Cohen has written a truly worthwhile book for anyone facing or providing caregiving."
Cohen told CA: "My family and life influence my writing; I find chronicling our lives works both as a coping mechanism and a powerful literary mission. I love the book To Kill A Mockingbird. I read it once a year. What brings me back to it is the subtle way social issues are woven into the narrative, the trust given to the reader to connect the dots."
BIOGRAPHICAL AND CRITICAL SOURCES:
Booklist, April 15, 2003, Vanessa Bush, review of TheHouse on Beartown Road: A Memoir of Learning and Forgetting, p. 1430.
Kirkus Reviews, February 1, 2003, review of TheHouse on Beartown Road, p. 200.
New York Times, April 6, 2003, Maggie Jones, "Filling the Room with Hurricanes," p. 8.
People, April 28, 2003, "Pages," review of The House on Beartown Road, p. 43.
Psychology Today, March-April, 2003, Donna Wagner, review of The House on Beartown Road, p. 81.
Publishers Weekly, May 10, 1999, review of TheScalpel and the Silver Bear: The First Navajo Woman Surgeon Combines Western Medicine and Traditional Healing, p. 45; May 22, 2000, John F. Baker, "Humans Coming and Going," p. 25; February 17, 2003, review of The House on Beartown Road, p. 63.
Time, March 24, 2003, Lev Grossman, "Laughter and Forgetting: Alzheimer's May Well be the Scourge of the New Century. Three Memoirs Face It with Wit and Courage," p. 65.
Caregiver's Home Companion,http://caregivershome.com/ (October 26, 2003), "A Memoir on Caregiving and How Neighbors Help."
National Association of School Psychologists,http://www.nasponline.org/ (October 26, 2003), Charles Saltzman, review of The Scalpel and the Silver Bear.
Spirituality & Health,http://www.spiritualityhealth.com/ (October 26, 2003), review of The Scalpel and the Silver Bear.
WSKG Radio,http://www.wskg.com/ (October 26, 2003), review of The House on Beartown Road.