“Brain in a Jar” is Born


Six months ago my beloved, wondrous father died from complications of Alzheimer’s disease. Today, I am pleased to announce that Beau’s memory will live on thanks to two fine Kentucky Gentlemen named Larry and Steve, who appreciate Brain in a Jar enough to publish it! I am so grateful to them, and to my truly divine agent Priya (and Jay), who navigated our way to this incredible announcement on this fall day:


Broadstone Books of Frankfort, Kentucky is pleased to announce the forthcoming publication of Brain in a Jar:  A Father and Daughter Race Against Alzheimer’s by Nancy Stearns Bercaw, scheduled to appear in the spring of 2013.

In this unflinchingly honest memoir, Bercaw recounts her life with her father, Dr. Beauregard Lee Bercaw, or “Beau,” who became a neurologist in response to watching his own father deteriorate and die from Alzheimer’s.  For many years Beau kept his father’s autopsied brain in a jar on the desk in his office as a constant reminder of the struggle that he waged against the disease first with his patients, and ultimately for himself as he succumbed to its effects.  This is also the story of Bercaw’s own struggle to establish her identity and life and to navigate the treacherous and ever-changing emotional terrain of her relationship with her father, as she literally traveled the world in her quest to make sense of both of their lives.

In their foreword to the book, former Senator Bob Kerrey and former Speaker of the House Newt Gingrich describe Brain in a Jar as “an American-gothic tale of love, grief, genetics, obsession, adventure, fear and courage. The Bercaws might break your heart, but they’ll also remind you why Alzheimer’s disease must take center stage in politics, medicine and art.”

Broadstone publisher Larry W. Moore says, “I am immensely pleased and proud that Nancy Bercaw has selected Broadstone Books to publish her remarkable memoir.  It would be reason enough to read this book as a gripping account of one family dealing with a tragic disease that continues to ravage the lives of countless victims and their survivors alike.

“But to say that this is an important book on a crucial subject is to understate its merits.  For in a larger sense, this book is not about Alzheimer’s.  It is about an even more universal subject, family, and how this one family and this one daughter in particular managed to live in the deep shadow of Beau’s obsession, magnificent or not.

“Surprisingly, given these dark themes, this is often a very funny book, tragicomic in the manner of real life that fiction can never equal.  Beau is such a vivid, complex and often infuriating character that if you were to encounter him in a novel you might dismiss him as too unlikely to be real; while Nancy’s own travels and adventures can seem almost too much to have been crammed into a single, still very much ongoing life.

“We are blessed that such a gifted and engaging writer as Nancy Bercaw should have lived – or perhaps I should say, survived – such an incredible life, and that she has chosen to make her memoir her mission and to share it with us.  This is a rollicking roller-coaster of a read, and it ends in the best possible way, filled with life and hope.”

Broadstone Books is an imprint of Broadstone Media LLC, a cultural promotion company in Frankfort, Kentucky.  For more information visit our website, BroadstoneBooks.com.


The partnership of Broadstone and Bercaw intend to have Brain in a Jar ready for shipping on April 2, 2013—-the first anniversary of Beau’s death. This attention to detail is one of the (many) things I like about Larry and Steve. They also see the importance in milestones and appreciate the significance of serendipity.  All things I learned to treasure from my dad.

Brain in a Jar will be available in a quality paperback edition for $24.95.  You can email  BroadstoneMedia@aol.com to get on the mailing list now in preparation for orders. 

Broadstone has written exactly what I’d hoped a publisher would say about the book and my father.  And now I am at a loss for words. Fortunately, I have very little left to convey.  After two years of writing Brain in a Jar and after many years of watching Beau’s life come to its almost-foretold conclusion, the long-awaited-and-hoped news of my book being published makes me want to cry in the water—not write or talk.

Yup, I’m going for a weepy swim to celebrate.

Why? As Beau lay dying, I read him the first chapter of Brain in a Jar, in which he teaches me to swim in a Huntsville, Alabama public pool. On that day, mysteriously, my father seemed obsessed with the idea that  swimming would take me places and perhaps even save me from something. By reading him that chapter,  I hoped to comfort him.
Tears were streaming down my face but I managed to read in my best voice  as if also to say, “Ole Dad, it worked. I am better because of swimming, but even better because of you.”

4 Comments Add yours

  1. nancybercaw says:

    I have said it before but now I will say it again…I am proud of your art, your love of your Dad, your devotion to telling his story your way, and your tenacity in the process. I am so happy for you…I am thrilled for you…I hope that millions of people buy this book!

  2. Andrea sisino says:

    Bravo Nancy, Bravo! You are such an inspiration to those around you but so, so SO far beyond that. Andréa Sisino

  3. mary brooke barss says:

    Congratulations, Nancy! This is great (and not at all surprising) news.

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