Monday, June 2, 2008

and the livin' is easy (well, easier)

We had a whirlwind weekend, with a soccer tournament, a cookout at our house, and then an end-of-the-season soccer picnic at the coach's house. The weather was extraordinarily cooperative--it was sunny and in the high 70's. Now that I've acclimated to life in the north, high 70's actually feels like summer to me... well, as long as the sun is out, anyway. This morning Walker and I were combing our hands through the garden looking for a caterpillar. Our six-year-old cookout guest captured one yesterday and put it in a bug jar and left it, so I released it last night. We have not yet found a substitute caterpillar, although the word is that the six-year-old is prostrate with grief. I called off my part of the search when I had my hand under the leaves of a plant and then realized that they looked familiar--I called Walker over-- "doesn't this look like poison ivy?" "Yeah, mom, it looks just like the picture." So I had to come in and wash my hands with Dawn and then a urushiol remover. Hope it works.

The kids and I have two days to clean up and rest up from the weekend, before scheduled summer activities begin in earnest, so maybe I'll have some time for sustained reading. For the last few days, I've only gotten in a few pages at a time. One of our party guests said that she had trouble sitting down and reading, without thinking she needed to jump up and do something else. We talked about the way we all multi-task, and whether twittering is a good habit to get into. Well, as you can probably tell, I'm in favor of sustained activities. I think that, for me at least, trying to stretch my attention too many different ways is kind of like making horcruxes--I'd lose a little more of my soul with every new activity I tried to add.

At any rate, here's my review of the book I read in small increments, amid the weekend whirlwind. It's Memoirs of a Teenage Amnesiac, by Gabrielle Zevin. Now, Zevin wrote Elsewhere, which Eleanor and I found absolutely fascinating. So when I found a new book by her at the library, I put it right in my bag. As you might expect from the title, though, Memoirs of a Teenage Amnesiac is nowhere near as fascinating as Elsewhere was. It's an entirely serviceable book; I didn't mind reading it, but it doesn't stand out in the vast realm of YA realistic fiction.

The main character, Naomi, falls down the school steps, knocks herself out, and loses four years of her most recent memories. She can remember middle school, but not high school. She doesn't remember her parents' divorce, and she's lost in French class, which she evidently began in ninth grade. The most interesting part of the book is her relationship with her yearbook co-editor, a "best friend" of the opposite sex. It took me--and Naomi--halfway through the book to put together that he calls her "chief" and she used to call him "coach" in one of their many private joke references. Most of the book is Naomi trying to figure out what kind of person she used to be, and then working on what kind of person she wants to be, in relation to her friends and family. She lives with her dad, and when they leave the hospital after her head injury, she looks for the red truck that she remembers. When he says he got rid of it she says

"You're joking. You loved that truck!"
Dad muttered something about the new one being more fuel-efficient. "It's covered in the memoir," he added.
It was, though I wouldn't find this out for many months. He wrote about the truck on page ninety-eight of his book. He claimed to have sold it because it reminded him of Mom. He didn't mention a thing about fuel efficiency. It was funny how Dad was more honest in a book that anyone in the world could pick up and read than he could be talking to me. Or maybe it was sad. One or the other. Sometimes it's hard to tell.

Of course it's sad/funny to a person's closest friends or family members to find out that context is all; since we often have rushed conversations on the way to the next thing, we don't always get the entire context for how someone is feeling, especially in terms of how those feelings have developed over the years. That's what writing a journal is for. Or blogging. Or writing a book, whether it's confessional literature or a novel. To go back to an earlier post, lies can be a way of telling the truth, and giving someone a soapbox can be a way of seeing more of the person, without your own whirlwinds intruding on their space.

1 comment:

harriet said...

That's so funny about the caterpillar. I hadn't seen your post yet -- I read you through bloglines and they haven't yet listed your new post. It must be caterpillar season!