Thursday, October 11, 2007

Fixing a Hole

I am reading, with minimal enthusiasm, Little Children by Tom Perrotta. It hasn't entirely felt like a waste of time, but I suspect that this is yet another book that will slide from my memory fairly quickly.

Earlier today I read through the list of books I've read over the past five or six years, and I was not too surprised at how wispy my memories are. Too often I plow through a book, barely taking a moment for introspection. Once I've finished a book, I pick up another one right away. I've often thought that if I savored books more, I could remember, say, the names of the main characters 2 weeks later. As for the finer points, the intangibles like themes and symbolism? Unless I loved the book, the chances that I'll remember them are quite slim.

My little reverie was punctuated by moments of recognition: "Oh, that was about a woman and it was written in reverse chronological order" (In the Name of Salome by Julia Alvarez), or "Okay, that one had the two guys who killed each other (Amsterdam by Ian McEwan). Some memories are even skimpier: "Hmm. It's about a ... university student ... in London ... or England somewhere..." (An Experiment in Love by Hilary Mantel) and "Septuplets in ... Canada maybe?" (Feather Crowns by Bobbie Ann Mason).

More disconcerting are the books that I cannot remember having read at all. I don't doubt the veracity of my list -- I'm sure I did read these books, but I can tell you nothing about them (The Music Lesson by Katherine Weber, The True History of Paradise by Margaret Cezair-Thompson [wait, maybe that one was about Jamaica?], Nearer Than the Sky by T? Greenwood). I spent chunks of time reading these books. Where they that dismissable that all I have left of them is a notation in my book log?

I could sugar-coat this memory lapse by attributing it to the many books I've read. Except that for the past few years I haven't read that many. Not like I used to before the kids were born, that is.

Is it me? Tell me it isn't just me. Other people have holes in their brains through which the salient details of books slip, right?