The Inward Empire: Mapping the Wilds of Mortality and Fatherhood
Date: June 2018
Duration: 9 hours 15 minutes
In the vein of The Noonday Demon and When Breath Becomes Air, a father's 'remarkable and revelatory' account of navigating his own neurological decline while watching in wonder as his young daughter's brain activity blossoms, a stunning examination of neurology, loss, and the meaning of life. (The Sunday Times)
Soon after his daughter Leontine is born, 36-year old Christian Donlan's world shifted an inch to the left. He started to miss door handles and light switches when reaching for them. He was suddenly unable to fasten the tiny buttons on his new daughter's clothes. These experiences were the early symptoms of multiple sclerosis, an incurable and degenerative neurological illness.
As Leontine starts to investigate the world around her, Donlan too finds himself in a new environment, a 'spook country' he calls the 'Inward Empire,' where reality starts to break down in bizarre, frightening, sometimes beautiful ways. Rather than turning away from this landscape, Donlan summons courage and curiosity and sets out to explore, a tourist in his own body. The result is this exquisitely observed, heartbreaking, and uplifting investigation into the history of neurology, the joys and anxieties of fatherhood, and what remains after everything we take for granted - including the functions that make us feel like ourselves - has been stripped away.
Like Andrew Solomon, Paul Kalathini, and William Styron, Donlan brings meaning, grace, playfulness, and dignity to an experience that terrifies and confounds us all.