I should say, in re: my post in re: Old Women Look Like This, by Susan M. Schultz that my remarks are colored by these factors:
- I've been visiting our next door neighbor, who is dying of cancer, in a nursing home recently, and I haven't been in one for a while;
- I have a father who is 83 and - knock wood - lucid, healthy, and mobile (for now);
- I am not getting any younger and have yet to fully come to terms with that fact.
I think that, if I see the chapbook as being tragic, rather than - what? - a romance? - then it probably has as much to do with me as with it. It also has to do with the fact that the chapbook asks us to take in a lot of people at a glance - so the full force of dementia in its many permutations hits one all at once. In this respect, the work is different than the same author's Dementia Blog (Singing Horse Press, 2008), which chronicles her mother's decline into Alzheimer's (and her own responses, in historical context) - backwards, in good blog (and dementia) fashion. The upshot is that the change, while already an accomplished fact, is revealed more gradually - and we focus on one sufferer in greater detail. Moreover, the loss only becomes fully apparent at the end.
But I still think that the power of Old Women comes from its unwillingness to try to give a happy ending to a process that resists it - a rare resistance to the forced optimism of American culture.
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