Denise is a perfect example, fixated on the effluvia of the culture: news feeds, celebrity gossip, terror scares. "This is the thing," she admits, "the shame: my memory is dominated by events external to my actual life. These events, for whatever reason, stick in my mind and become secondhand memories."
On the one hand, Spiotta is drawing a parallel between Denise and Nik, with his invented history, and between both of them and their mother, whose memory has disappeared. But her real point is not to frame a parallel but an opposition, since for Nik, the internal world "was his own exclusive interest now and had been for years." It is imagination that is the driving force here, and if Spiotta's too smart to suggest that it might save us, she does see it as the source of a futile reverence. "No one," she writes, "— not me, certainly — could deny that this was a form of purity."