A little unstable in the light: Dementia stories can serve a social purpose

There’s something about dementia that captivates a writer. This situation highlights the smoothness of language, the importance of memory in narrative, and identity challenges. Perception – real or fanciful, immutable or elusive – is what the story is driven by, and dementia is like a knife opening an oyster; using it we can unlock and get acquainted with an increasingly familiar world.

or writer, it is a gift. It is an uncomfortable thing to admit to a potentially life-threatening condition. This awkward truth is explored indirectly in the numerous books on dementia published over the past decade. Some of these were used in the research project that inspired this anthology.

Introduce about A little unstable in the light explains that the 14 authors published here have been commissioned to create stories with a social purpose – aimed at destiny, illuminating and diversifying representations of the condition.

Given the size of the audience, the diversity seems rather superficial; in fact, many stories are amazingly similar in setting, theme, outlook, and even some details. That speaks to a common experience of a state of affairs that doesn’t matter where in the world you may live, what your sexuality is or what religion you follow.

Home care and rotting domestication; sibling rivalry and resentment; the contrast between an aging parent’s mind and a developing teenager’s; acceptance or devotion to a loved one even after a history of neglect or abuse; Desired, unexpected or unexpected revelations – all feature prominently in stories. And, of course, loss – love, connection, identity.

Dementia affects a person’s sense of self, and thus the self-concept of loved ones, loved ones and caregivers. Narrator by Nuala O’Connor’s This little giddy life made this simple with her final words to her mother:

“[…]I don’t know how I’m going to fit in with my own life, and it’s mom’s fault, Mother…”
History offers an answer, but inaccessible memories: “Your father had a woman’s hands,” she said, her voice dreamy as she looked out the window.
I was emptying the bin and I stood with the bag lifted in my hand, gripping it tighter. I said, “So, how is he, this father of mine?” But she’s gone, back to where the cloud she spent most of her time.

With some types of dementia, the present day is far behind and recent history has become clearer and more important, inspiring vivid fictional flashbacks. By Elaine Feeney What, you egg Great use of this technique. In this story, written in second person, a daughter has become the custodian of her mother’s memory, of a particular memory related over and over again, and that is also the key to understanding conversations. their contemporaries. In the end, however, the reader still has to ask whose story is now, and who is actually telling it.

Most of the characters in these works are grappling with new situations, new responsibilities, or estranged or antagonistic new loved ones, so stability in Jan Carson Our beloved women have outnumbered us are delighted. In this story worthy of Shirley Jackson (told in the first person plural), the narrators recognize and anticipate their accusatory behavior: “Angelica stops abruptly. She has a very distinctive look on her face. We are all familiar with this look. It was the appearance of someone who had just woken up in an unfamiliar room. “

Instead of trying to understand, these family caregivers wisely watch, herd, and manipulate their six women with calm efficiency and a delightful sense of humor – until being persecuted. interrupted, scary, by a seventh.

Another type of fear is discovered in Heat wave by Oona Frawley. Teen Ellie’s mother and uncle seem to be succumbing to dementia that causes them to simultaneously mentally withdraw and walk nonstop. Her aunt, Maura, worries that she’s next: ”[T]This is a terror in me,’ Maura said quietly. ‘Today, Pat finally realized that maybe it wasn’t just bad luck. And I find that my chances of getting out of my own helplessness are decreasing day by day ‘.’ ‘It’s a fear many will recognize.

More elusive is confusion and instability of meaning, but this is elegantly resolved in Anna Jean Hughes’s Loss of focus on sound, the only story told entirely from the perspective of someone living with dementia: “I went to put on the dress again and saw a woman staring at me at the rehearsal place. And I’m also trying to book her. She’s familiar, though everyone is when you work at the pub. Tabard occupation. “

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The reader understands where the narrator is going and can follow, but also clearly sees (as the protagonist can’t) where she’s lost her way, and all this without ever attracting attention. slide track.

In the anthology’s afterword, Jane Lugea, linguist and co-editor, examines language in dementia literature, highlighting techniques such as word omissions and metaphors, based on works existing that she researched and 14 new stories in the collection. This section provides ideas on literature for the betterment of society, but I hope it will also serve as a resource for analytical readers and potential writers, and will inspire for other works for future research.

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A Little Unsteadily Into the Light, edited by Jan Carson and Jane Lugea

Short Story: A Little Unsteadily Into Light, edited by Jan Carson and Jane Lugea
New Island, 240 pages, paperback € 16.95

Emma Healey is the author of ‘Elizabeth is Missing’ and ‘Whistle in the Dark’

https://www.independent.ie/entertainment/books/book-reviews/a-little-unsteadily-into-light-dementia-stories-that-can-serve-a-social-purpose-42023408.html A little unstable in the light: Dementia stories can serve a social purpose

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