: The Long and the Short :

2018 Summer Vol. 76, No. 3

Read the Press Release about this issue

There is a historical convention that allows historians an out from the rigid periodization that wars and presidential cycles imposes on textbooks and even how we think about the past, present and future. We have A.D. and B.C that marks the long history of Christianity or the Chinese dynasties from the Maoist present. Here in the United States we are in a Trumpian era and no one knows how long or short it might be, but pundits are eager to predict the way it might go with David Brooks writing about the secularization of Europe with its own gods and myths.

The important question is, of course, what directions are we headed in—up or down, backwards or forward or a period of stasis where there is little or no danger ahead. The recent decision by the board of the “Advanced Placement History Test” given to high school seniors will ignore anything before 1450 so students won’t have to know anything about the Greeks, the Byzantine Empire and scores of other epochs once referred to as the “dark ages.”

The same phenomena can be said of literary cycles or tendencies. Nowadays we can barely keep up with our slush pile, which produces both long and short pieces that increasing contain personal memoirs, essays about medical issues such as Alzheimer’s. Recently we had a copy of the Norwegian writer Karl Knausgaard’s last volume of his epic My Struggle which runs to over fourteen hundred pages and an advanced copy of an anthology of short fiction titled New Micro that begins with Pamela Painter then runs the gamut of short story writers including Amy Hempel, and Dawn Raffel, Richard Brautigan and Ron Carlson. Take your pick.

We open with a beautiful essay on about Alzheimer’s from an Australian author new to our pages and end with another similar essay by Kenneth McClane from “Our Archives” and originally published in 2006. In between we have long and short works. Take your pick and your genre. But don’t miss the first and last pieces.  The cure of Alzheimer’s or its parent illness dementia remains elusive.  Dementia afflicts fifty million people each year world-wide and serious research is ongoing.  Yet these personal essays go a long way in helping us to understand the roles of both caregiver and patient today.

Robert S. Fogarty, Editor 

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