Book Review: A Little Unsteadily Into Light – Edited by Jan Carson and Jane Lugea


Posted 2 months ago in Book Review

A Little Unsteadily Into Light

Edited by Jan Carson and Jane Lugea

New Island Books

Taking its title from a stage direction in Beckett’s devastating Krapp’s Last Tape, a play which could be about dementia, A Little Unsteadily Into Light is similarly an attempt to stumble into the unknown of living with dementia.

This anthology of fourteen newly commissioned short stories opens up extraordinary ways of navigating language, memory and human relationships amidst the humour and pathos of diverse dementia experience, from the absurd reality of life in a care home in Jan Carson’s story, ‘Our Dear Ladies Have Outnumbered Us’, to the ‘burst pipe in the brain’ flooding yet not drowning a mother-daughter relationship in Sinéad Gleeson’s ‘Immurement’. There are stories of the ‘waywardness’ dementia brings, as in Nuala O’Connor’s ‘This Small Giddy Life’, and stories of agency, hurt and refusal, as in Mary Morrissy’s ‘Fingerpost’.

 

Each writer, whether narrating from the perspective of patient or loved one, draws from personal experience, grappling with the complexities of capturing a lived experience which, though close to them, is not their own.

If told as creatively, carefully and candidly as they are here, dementia stories can foster real awareness and understanding. Even as their characters lose the words with which to tell them, by reading, we stumble through the dark with them.

Words: Hannah Clarkson

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