Saturday, March 10, 2012

Journal 141 Re-reading and Re-living

My friend H. sent me this link this morning.

I love the colour blocks (retro) that extoll the 'subtler' pleasures of re-reading different books.
What's funny is that I was thinking about this this morning in the shower, about Carole Radziwill's wonderful memoir "What Remains,"(it's on my top twenty-five pretty much for life), and re-reading certain parts of it (because I do that too--re-read a book in sections) because she was Carolyn Bessette Kennedy's sister-in-law, and as I was googling my own blog to get to the page yesterday, Bessette Kennedy's name came up in my google search (I'm not capitalizing google. I'm just noticing this--is it now part of our lexicon? Can I will it so? A verb, something one does. Yes...I think it is. It will be).  So I thought about Radziwill's wonderful memoir and about fitting in a re-reading.
Then I was reading March Vogue this morning (finished the Adele article. Brilliant), and there is always a section each month where they review a memoir, just prior to its release (that's how I first heard of Radziwill's memoir).  The reviews are excerpts really, I should clarify, with a background write-up, and this month features the book "Wild--From Lost to Found on the Pacific Crest Trail" by Cheryl Strayed, and the excerpt I read was well-written and plot-motivated. The premise is thus:  Strayed (aptly named, really) sets out to hike this trail, starting in California, the base of the Sierra Nevada, trekking north 1100 miles (multiply by 1.6 for the kilometres of this) in a time period of 95 days.  At the age of twenty-six.
By herself.
Reading memoir fascinates me, and almost more than that are the reasons behind writing memoir.  More often then not (I've noticed, over the last year or so, as this blog tracks) that the death of a parent is a motivating factor.  What is it about this specific event that has the ability to so blow-up a life?
In Caroline Knapp's memoir  "Drinking, A Love Story", (another one I've read and practically memorized, another fascinating, and deceased Carol(ine)yn--she died at age forty-one herself of lung cancer) was written after the death of both her parents, within a year of each other.  And as I re-read it last year, with my shifting circumstances, my age matching hers at her time of writing, I reflected on something her father said, shortly before he died (both her parents died of cancer, slower deaths, the kind my father had--where you get to say good-bye first, and you talk about death. It's ghoulish, yes, but it's a good-bye nonetheless. With accidents and heart-attacks, those swift, sudden deaths, you don't get to do that. Shivery, I know).
Her father wondered aloud to her if his death would be 'liberating' to Knapp, and she was horrified and upset by this. He went on (I should note he was an eminent psychiatrist and I do confess to writing about this from my memory, I'm not referencing the book directly--if I have made errors in my facts, forgive me) to say "The death of a parent is a life-altering event".  How very true, as she soon learned.  As I learned, too.

Just rambling on a Saturday morning. I started out writing about re-writing, got off topic onto memoir, and now I listen to Mike talk to his own parents on the phone right now about his grandmother, aged ninety-two, who is recovering from surgery (I am fascinated by people who still have grandparents as adults. All four of mine were gone by the time I was eight).  I imagine that the death of a grandparent, too, when you are an adult and have had more time to develop your relationship with them, is life-altering.
The life-altering factor seems to have a motivating force, that seems to be the commonality.
The perspective-forming.
The priority-making.
The re-dedication to living and loving.
This precious life.

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