Thursday, March 27, 2008

One Other Point About Long Lists

I want to add only one point to Alicia's excellent post about lists.

When you have a list of a large number of items, the reader will almost always recall those items in this order:
Last item
First item
Second-to-last item
Third-to-last item

Then, if they remember more of the list -- and chances are, they won't -- the item remembered becomes more random.

Think I'm kidding? Without looking, try to recall the items in the long Don DeLillo passage she posted yesterday. (Was that from White Noise, btw?) I'll give you a couple moments to think about it. But no peeking!

If you remembered the Mystic Mints and the Dum-Dum pops, you remembered the last two items on the list. Those were the two I remember most clearly. I also remember stereos. And Kabooms and Waffelos. And other than that, I remember a generally confused impression of lots and lots of crap on a big yard.

What do you remember? Does your memory of the list resemble mine? The only way my recollection veers from expectations is that I remembered the stereos, but DeLillo actually wrote about stereo sets. And I missed the fruit chews and toffee popcorn, skipping right over those to recall the Waffelos and Kabooms. (I wonder if that's due to the brand names?)


1 comment:

Dave Shaw said...

The ONLY thing I remembered was the toffee popcorn, probably because I'm a popcorn junkie. Third to the last thing, I see. I think my eye caught on it a little earlier, though, as I paged through to see if there were added comments to any of the older posts, before I read this one, so maybe that's really cheating. I dunno.