Fiction and poetry about dementia
November 7, 2019 6:00 AM   Subscribe

I'm wondering if anyone knows any established poets or authors of other genres who have written about dementia.

While they are important and poignant, at this point I'm less interested in anthologies like the one mentioned here . I am also more interested in longer works of fiction, poetry or well-written memoir than a one-off story or poem. I'm looking to cover the bases so no work that fits these criteria is too obvious!
posted by theefixedstars to Media & Arts (15 answers total) 9 users marked this as a favorite
Jo Walton's My Real Children is science fiction but very much involved with that theme. Perhaps not as literal as you're looking for, but very, very good.
posted by restless_nomad at 6:09 AM on November 7, 2019 [3 favorites]

The narrator's father in the novel Financial Lives Of The Poets suffers from dementia. In one of Milan Kundera's novels, someone's father progressively loses the power of speech until all he can say is "That's very strange."
posted by thelonius at 6:09 AM on November 7, 2019 [1 favorite]

Elizabeth is Missing is a first-person novel narrated by an elderly woman with dementia. I wouldn’t call it brilliant, but it’s decent (and I’m very picky).
posted by FencingGal at 6:14 AM on November 7, 2019 [1 favorite]

Rebecca Roger's graphic novel Bird in a Cage
posted by Geameade at 6:15 AM on November 7, 2019 [1 favorite]

Today I am Carey by Martin Shoemaker. First-person science fiction novel narrated by android caring for a woman with dementia.
posted by FencingGal at 6:19 AM on November 7, 2019 [2 favorites]

Still Alice is haunting and fascinating, and it was written by a neuroscientist.
posted by fiercecupcake at 6:55 AM on November 7, 2019 [2 favorites]

Goodbye, Vitamin by Rachel Khong. It's a wry and graceful novel about a woman and her father and how they cope when he develops Alzheimer's.
posted by prewar lemonade at 7:03 AM on November 7, 2019 [1 favorite]

Russell Baker's Growing Up is a wonderful memoir. Though not the central theme, his mother develops dementia at 84 and even though it's been close to 20 years since I read the book, I still recall his excellent portrayal of her deterioration.
posted by silence down below at 7:37 AM on November 7, 2019 [1 favorite]

Dementia Blog is AMAZING.
posted by nantucket at 7:37 AM on November 7, 2019 [1 favorite]

We Are Not Ourselves, by Matthew Thomas (fiction/novel).
posted by pinwheel spark at 9:33 AM on November 7, 2019

If you are interested in graphic novels or graphic memoirs:
Tangles: A Story About Alzheimer's, My Mother, and Me by Sarah Leavitt
Can't We Talk About Something More Pleasant by Roz Chast
posted by carrioncomfort at 10:12 AM on November 7, 2019

Somebody I Used to Know - Wendy Mitchell: a superb memoir of someone living with young-onset dementia
On Pluto -- Greg O'Brien: a memoir of someone more in the early-middle stages of Alzheimer's. He's got a totally different style to Wendy Mitchell.

Second the Roz Chast graphic memoir.
posted by assenav at 10:50 AM on November 7, 2019

I've always interpreted the poetry of Rayna Gellert's song "Nothing" as being an exploration of aging and memory loss.

On the same album, the song "The Platform" is explicitly a a first-person account of dementia and the experience of forgetting who your spouse and family are.

My grandmother had Alzheimer's. It was a difficult experience, and these songs have been meaningful to me.
I wish I could reprint the complete lyrics here, because they are really moving, but I don't have time to transcribe them myself right now and they don't seem to be online.
posted by cnidaria at 9:19 PM on November 7, 2019

Stammered Songbook by Erwin Mortier.
posted by Desertshore at 4:38 AM on November 8, 2019

I'd recommend Barney's Version - I'm not sure how well it has aged, but I remember it being funny and poignant despite having a difficult protagonist.
posted by Paper rabies at 12:11 PM on November 8, 2019

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