We always are in this in-between world of ‘Is this a dream? Is this really happening? Are we in costume? Who are we?’”
Monthly Archives: July 2014
The tricks that memory plays, the writer [García Márquez ] argues, actually shape our lives. ‘What matters in life is not what happens to you but what you remember and how you remember it,’ García Márquez writes at the opening of his personal account. Further on he demonstrates the point with an anecdote. He says that when his parents were married in 1926, his mother yearned for the little telegraph office house where she had spent her honeymoon. García Márquez says he and his brothers and sisters were soon able to describe it ‘room by room as if they had lived there’. As he approached the age of 60, the writer finally travelled to the place to look at the house and found it ‘was not at all like the one in my memory at all’. All the same, today he can ‘never visualise it as it is, but rather as I constructed it, stone by stone, without seeing it, through my mother’s nostalgia’. Vanessa Thorpe, Magical Realism . . . and fakery
[Henry] Lawson’s reconstruction of the mood of his childhood home should not be accorded the status of holy writ. What he remembered and how he remembered were affected to some extent by his needs at the time he was doing the remembering. (This is the temptation of the autobiographer: to put the past into the shape it should have taken; to make yourself cut the figure you should have cut. Likewise, the biographer, in relation to his subject, may behave as avenging angel, remorselessly straightening the record, or a scourge, reducing the subject to insignificance or nonentity of mediocrity. But it is less likely that truth will lie so conveniently at one or other of those extremes than that it will be intricately ramified through the whole spectrum)
Louisa Brian Matthews, McPhee Gribble 1987
I seem to remember that I went to the new house one winter day and saw snow descending through the attic to the upstairs bedrooms. It could also be that I never did any such thing, for I am fairly certain that in a snapshot album I have lost track of there was a picture of the house taken in the circumstances I have just described, and it is possible that I am remembering that rather than an actual experience.
What we, or at any rate what I, refer to confidently as memory- meaning a moment, a scene, a fact that has been subjected to a fixative and thereby rescued from oblivion – is really a form of storytelling that goes on continually in the mind and often changes with the storytelling.
Too many conflicting emotional interests are involved for life ever to be wholly acceptable, and possibly it is the work of the storyteller to rearrange things so that they conform to this end. In any case, in talking about the past we lie with every breath we draw.
William Maxwell So Long, See You Tomorrow The Harvill Press London 1998 p27
‘I stopped one night in front of the Ferragamo shoe-shop on Fifth Avenue. The light from the shop was so strong it seemed like daylight spilling over the pavement. I felt drenched in the uncanny whiteness. And there in the window, draped on transparent mannequins or laid on silver boxes, were some of the dazzling relics of the late Marilyn Monroe. ‘A pair of stilettos by Salvatore Ferragamo, scarlet satin, encrusted with matching rhinestones.’ There’s no place like home, I thought. ‘Estimate: $4000-6000.’ And further along a hand-knitted cardigan, ‘with a brown geometric pattern and matching knitted belt. Worn by Marilyn Monroe in 1962 and featured in a series of photographs by George Barris taken on the beach in Santa Monica, California. Estimate: $30,000-50,000.’ In the corner of the window there stood a halter-neck dress from the movie Let’s Make Love. I thought of Marilyn and Yves Mont-and posing for the cameras with their unhappy smiles. ‘Estimate: $15,000-20,000.’ The Monroe things had been to London, Paris and Buenos Aires, and were now back in New York for auction at Christie’s. Ferragamo took the opportunity for a cute bit of public relations flimflam. The cold air from the ice-rink at Rockefeller Plaza – underneath Christie’s salerooms – seemed to be blowing in one great frosty whoop down the avenue.’ Andrew O’Hagan, St Marilyn
When I was five years old my parents all of a sudden produced a baby boy, which my mother said was what I had always wanted. Alice Munro
Once you’ve finished a novel, what happened in it is of little importance and soon forgotten. What matters are the possibilities and ideas that the novel’s imaginary plot communicates to us and infuses us with. Javier Marias, The Infatuations
There is one moment in every lifetime when we are asked for courage we feel in every cell to be beyond us. It is what you do at that moment that determines all that follows. We like to think we are given more than one chance, but it’s not true. And our failure is so permanent that we try to convince ourselves it was the right thing, and we rationalise again and again. In our very bones we know the truth; it is so tyrannical, so exacting, we want to deny it in every way. This failure is at the heart of everything we do, every subtle decision we make. And that is why, at the very heart of us, there is nothing we crave more than forgiveness. It is a bottomless desire, this desire for forgiveness.
Anne Michaels,The Winter Vault