Saturday, July 09, 2022
Recently, I read an article suggesting techniques to help retain good memory by a physician specializing in Alzheimer’s. One of his key suggestions is to read fiction. He finds that preferring to read nonfiction over fiction often accompanies reduced memory capability.
He points out that fiction requires higher reader engagement with words, sentences, and ideas. For example in a novel, page 135 might require a reader to recall something mentioned briefly back on page three. Both the creative writing and visual arts call for fully engaged responses.
Over the past couple of years, I’ve fallen away from fiction. Not thinking it’s too hard to follow, but for too little interest in contemporary stories. Recently, I’ve written about having “discovered” fine writers, now unknown, who created during the second half of Twentieth Century. I intended to read their books and ordered them.
When new books arrive, I often set them aside and plan to read later. Sometimes (I don’t know why) not returning to them. This time, on receiving the books with creative short stories, very soon after reading the doctor’s article, I made a priority of starting to read immediately.
This reading is rewarding. The stories by relatively un-remembered American authors were created during a cultural period I understand well. They make me recall cultural changes over the years–say, from the nineteen sixties through about 2000; they revive experiences and memories of my own.
These stories speak to a shift in cultural norms by refreshing old social conditions large and subtle. They increase an understanding of why it’s difficult for older generations to comprehend more fully today’s youth culture.
Dear Friends: More later about these stories, what reading them offers. Diana