Old Friend from Far Away

Old Friend from Far Away
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  • ISBN-13: 9781416535027
  • ISBN: 1416535020
  • Publication Date: 2008
  • Publisher: Free Press, The


Goldberg, Natalie


Read this Introduction There is nothing stiff about memoir. It's not a chronological pronouncement ofthe facts of your life: born in Hoboken, New Jersey; schooled at Elm CreekElementary; moved to Big Flat, New York, where you attended Holy Mother HighSchool. Memoir doesn't cling to an orderly procession of time and dates,marching down the narrow aisle of your years on this earth. Rather it encompassesthe moment you stopped, turned your car around, and went swimming in a deep poolby the side of the road. You threw off your gray suit, a swimming trunk in thebackseat, a bridge you dived off. You knew you had an appointment in the nexttown, but the water was so clear. When would you be passing by this river again?The sky, the clouds, the reeds by the roadside mattered. You remembered bolognasandwiches made on white bread; you started to whistle old tunes. How did lifeget so confusing? Last week your seventeen-year-old told you he was gay and yoususpect your wife is having an affair. You never liked selling industrial-sizedbelts to tractor companies anyway. Didn't you once dream of being a librarian ora dessert cook? Maybe it was a landscaper, a firefighter? Memoir gives you the ability to plop down like the puddle that forms and spreadsfrom the shattering of a glass of milk on the kitchen floor. You watch how thebroken glass gleams from the electric light overhead. The form of memoir hasleisure enough to examine all this. Memoir is not a declaration of the American success story, one undeviating road,the conquering of one mountaintop after another. The puddle began in downfall.The milk didn't get to the mouth. Whatever your life, it is urging you to recordit -- to embrace the crumbs with the cake. It's why so many of us want to writememoir. We know the particulars, but what really went on? We want the emotionaltruths under the surface that drove our life. In the past, memoir was the country of old people, a looking back, a reminiscence.But now people are disclosing their lives in their twenties, writing their firstmemoir in their thirties and their second in their forties. This revolution inpersonal narrative that has unrolled across the American landscape in the lasttwo and a half decades is the expression of a uniquely American energy: a desireto understand in the heat of living, while life is fresh, and not wait till oldage -- it may be too late. We are hungry -- and impatient now. But what if you are already sixty, seventy years old, eighty, ninety? Let thethunder roll. You've got something to say. You are alive and you don't know forhow long. (None of us really knows for how long.) No matter your age there is asense of urgency, to make life immediate and relevant. Think of the word: memoir. It comes from the French memoire. It is the studyof memory, structured on the meandering way we remember. Essentially it is anexamination of the zigzag nature of how our mind works. The thought of Cheeriosricochets back to a broken fence in our backyard one Nebraska spring, then hopsover to the first time we stood before a mountain and understood kindness. A smell,a taste -- and a whole world flares up. How close can we get? All those questions, sometimes murky and uncomfortable: whowas that person that was your mother? Why did you play basketball when you longedto play football? Your head wanted to explode until you first snorted cocainebehind the chain-link fence near the gas station. Then things got quiet andpeaceful, but what was that black dog still at your throat? We are a dynamic country, fast-paced, ever onward. Can we make sense of love andambition, pain and longing? In the center of our speed, in the core of our forwardmovement, we are often confused and lonely. That's why we have turned so full-heartedly to the memoGoldberg, Natalie is the author of 'Old Friend from Far Away', published 2008 under ISBN 9781416535027 and ISBN 1416535020.

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