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Submitted Literature

Erasure

By Percival L Everett

Review

Everett’s very readable novel explores a number of themes, one of which is coping with a parent with dementia.  Notions of dignity, care and safety are poignantly explored.  Issues such as ethnicity and identity and individuality versus plurality are also detailed with thought-provoking results.   

Key Themes:

  • Carer Issues
  • Dementia / Alzheimer's
  • Revealing Reads

Significant Quotes / Pages

38 – “Anyone who speaks to members of his family knows that sharing a language does not mean you share the rules governing the use of that language.  No matter what is said, something else is meant and I knew that for all my mother's seeming incoherence or out-of-itness, she was trying to tell me something over tea.  The way she had mentioned the smoke in the living room twice.  Her calling the blue box gray.  Her easy and quick capitulation to what it was she and her cronies actually did at their meetings.  But since I didn't know the rules, which were for ever-changing, I could only know that she was trying to say something, not what that something was.”

207 – “Mother was down for one of the great battery of daily naps on which she had come to rely for a semblance of stability.  Her most lucid moments seemed to occur when she first awoke and after that there were any number of cracks in the surface of her world through which to fall.  There was no steering her toward solid ground; she stepped where she stepped.”

214 – “I was left alone to care for Mother. I had not known of the extent to which I depended on the servant, and I learned that reality knows neither subtlety nor kindness when it decides to ‘get in your face,’ as it were.  Her mother was having a particularly difficult morning.  She knew who I was and who she was and that there was a wedding to attend, but had forgotten how to dress.  And so I dressed her.  My maleness meant nothing to her as she asked me to help her with her bra and slip and her hose.  I felt as if I were stranded in some surreal, poorly dubbed, Italian film, but finally it was all too real.”

 

224 – “I was exhausted, my eyes burning from having been open and staring at either Mother or the book in my lap all night.  The backs of my legs had gone numb from sitting in the round-rimmed wooden chair.  I was completely distrustful of any measure of stability the old woman exhibited that evening of Lorraine's wedding.  I was terrified that I would wake and find her bed empty, then, after a brief search, her lifeless body floating in the creek or simply laid out at the bottom of the stairs.  The business of committing her seemed so much more urgent now.  I was desperate to know that she was safe and I was desperate to discontinue my feelings of desperation.”

Reference: Percival L, Everett. 2001. Erasure. London: Faber and Faber, 2006

Reviewer

- Charley Baker
Date Review Submitted: Friday 20th March 2009