My father often said to me, “You’re all the time thinking. Don’t you know anything?”
No. No, I don’t.
A while back, I put forth this notion of a book swap/discussion–a previous post. Shelly was kind enough to send me The Echo Maker by Richard Powers. I am supposed to send a book in return. But what book do you send someone who’s read close to everything and who knows what he’s talking about? I look at the books I love and think–I don’t know anything.
But The Echo Maker struck a nerve. A character is in an accident and suffers a brain injury. Now, if I couldn’t be a writer or artist or teacher, and I was brilliant enough, I’d be a neuroscientist. (Do you ever listen to Radio Lab? Amazing stuff about the brain.) Much of the bits in the novel about the brain and all the things that can go wrong with it, I’d read before.
The character with the brain injury, Mark, doesn’t accept his sister, Karen, after his accident. As far as he is concerned, the woman who is taking care of him looks like his sister but is an impostor. Nothing Karen does can convince him that she is who she is. Her memories of their childhood and of their relationship fall apart. The neuroscientist who gets involved with Mark’s case has his own sense of cracked and turned around.
So. A few months ago someone from my past found me (thank you facebook) and now several people from another life have found me, and now my own memories seem called into question. I’ve written down many memories here, and to the best of my ability and knowledge, they are true. I’ve got my own filters and memory flaws–I’m sure I’ve gotten a few words wrong here and there. But the truth of it, my perception, the fact of the event is always true.
Thanks to certain people back in my life, gaps in my memory are being filled in. While I can’t say I was wrong about things that happened, I’m questioning how I saw things. Why is it I hate my hometown when everyone else remembers it fondly? Why do they remember me at all when I remember being invisible? Of course, I’ve also been told recently that I think a lot, perhaps too much.
And I’m selling art. I’ve had a bit of success. This has challenged my image of my self as someone who never on that side of things. If I’m wrong about that, where else am I wrong?
But think about this–how would you react if someone you loved refused to believe you are who you are and you can’t just leave this person?
Have you ever felt a book came into your life at just the right time? That it connected to your life in a way few books–even great ones you love–can do?