Saturday, March 03, 2007

The mind is blowing Austerly

I recently read my first Paul Auster book, "The Invention of Solitude".

Confessions time: I have suffered from an attitude against American writers. Like, "they cannot be all that literary (=good) since they are American". Shame on me. The book is brilliant, particularly "The Book of Memory", its second half. Somewhere towards the end, the narrator (who tells us he decides to call himself A and speak of himself in the third person) launches into a page-long desperate attempt, as it were, to remember everything in his life, sentence upon sentence, a breathless and beautiful list.

The sequence is stunning to me, as I too am an A and have since childhood had both the need to remember and the habit of referring to myself in the third person in my thoughts. And this is what came out of it:

She remembers reading Paul Auster's book and loving it. She remembers recognising the need to verify all her life's moments by remembering, by recording them. She remembers deciding she would write a blog entry, this one, in its style, copying openly and shamelessly. She remembers, at age four or thereabouts, the magic night of a floating star, which probably was a satellite, her first. She remembers falling asleep in the boat when it got stuck in shallow water and being carried home and jolted awake, just slightly, by her father taking an unsteady step going down that hill. She remembers the black kitten she got for her fourth birthday, wrapped up in a purple sweater. She remembers the Baltic of her childhood, a beautiful benign entity, and its granite shores. She remembers loving the tadpoles she studied every summer in their rock pools. She remembers her mother pointing out how fir trees in the distance look blue in winter. She remembers how she cried when the big fir tree at the cottage had been felled over the winter. She remembers skating and skiing and the smack she got from her father when she tried to make snowballs without her mittens. She remembers the clay landscapes she made to represent Anne of Green Gables' Avonlea. She remembers going to school and loving it. She remembers going to school and hating it. She remembers boys and men and getting married and getting divorced and having babies. She remembers the look of wonder on her firstborn's month-old face when he first noticed the green summer branches swaying above him. She remembers the existential shock she got from his first smile. She remembers giving birth. She remembers her younger being scared of the dark when he was too young to be scared of it, and his hiccupy contagious laughter. She remembers building a tower with her toddler's nestling pots and understanding, preverbally, that she'd got it right. She remembers going to a session of some therapy whose name, ridiculously, she has forgotten, and there remembering being born. She remembers she never told anyone about that. She remembers her psychoanalyst and not wanting to talk to her for four years. She remembers the set of four or five nesting pottery eggshells she gave her as a good-bye present. She remembers, as a two-three-year-old, dreaming twice that a lorry came to fetch her from the park and that it kissed her on the knee. She remembers things so piss-awful she refuses to remember them, and things so nasty she refuses to forget them. She remembers living on the other side of the planet and starting this blog. She knows if she wanted and tried to, she would remember everything. She would, she would, she would.


nmj said...

well, nmj remembers reading this post and thinking, what a brilliant post, and reading it again.

Anna MR said...

*Anna MR bows and curtsies. She remembers being pleased by nmj's comment.*

Reading the Signs said...

Lovely. And perfect as a "writing practice" exercise too. I will keep it for future use. I have read a number of Paul Auster books but not this one. There was a point (in his trilogy I think) when the nihilism overwhelmed me. But I love his writing.

Anna MR said...

Thank you, signs. I have a feeling it will be a reoccurring stylistic devise in this blog, as it is quite helpful to take the launch approach when feeling blocked.

Anna MR said...

Device, not devise. I am tired today.