5 stars. “Rage, rage against the dying of the light,” February 23, 2014
In “No Choice,” the ending takes us by surprise, but the core of the story is the day-to-day process of dementia, as it robs the struggling characters of their minds. Gene draws us in to the lives of the protagonists, and engenders sympathy for them even if they are wetting the bed and screaming at the top of their lungs. They struggle for some measure of independence, and we are rooting for them to maintain some dignity and receive recognition that they are adults and not babies.
In “A Letter of Intent” and “Approaching Wilderness” Gene describes the characters’ passionate, if unrealistic, desire to have control over their own lives, and the resulting anger at those who want to control them or put them away in a clean and sterile facility. Both stories have a twist at the end that underscores Gene’s mastery of the absurd and humorous, even in dire situations.
The stories are well written and fun to read, even though the topic could be depressing. The characters fight with the dementia and with themselves and others at the enveloping frustration of forgetting everything. Yet, they have a certain nobility as they reject conformity, safety, and comfort, and express themselves in whatever way they can (sometimes with graphic expletives that some may find offensive). In his poem to his father, Dylan Thomas advises not to “go gentle into that good night” and to “rage, rage against the dying of the light.” Gene’s characters do rage against their situation, and in doing so make us sympathetic with their struggle.
The stories will engage readers of any age.
I have just published my new Kindle book. Approaching Wilderness is a collection of six stories dealing with dementia, originally published in various literary journals. Inspired by my late mother’s struggles with the disease during her last years, I sought to explore the questions that all family members must eventually face: where does that beloved person go? What goes on in the secret life of her mind? The stories, filled with humor and compassion, are one man’s attempt to understand the tragic heartache of dementia. http://www.amazon.com/dp/B00HNY8R6U
Approaching Wilderness is on sale for $.99 and is only available as a Kindle book (which, in addition to Kindle readers, can be downloaded to iPhones and iPads as well as personal computers).
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