Sunday, November 6, 2011

Something About Childhood Memories, or, Snappy Title to be Determined.

A Blog Post from Mark

I was trying to come up with a list of my 5 favorite books from 2011 for our bookstore newsletter. After going over everything that I’d read during the year, I finally came up with my list. Some titles were fiction, some were memoirs but as I looked over the list, I saw a pattern emerge. A number of books such as We the Animals by Justin Torres, The Cat’s Table by Michael Ondaatje, and It’s All Relative by Wade Rouse all had something to do with childhood, either from a child’s perspective of from recollections from childhood. Particularly from the vantage point of children from 11-13 years of age, which are particularly crazy and volatile years.

I even wrote a small anecdote about a book, by request of our friend John Eklund who is a rep for Harvard University Press regarding a new book called On Rereading by Patricia Meyer Spacks. I wrote about having reread a book that I’d been required to read in high school, a book that I hated at the time, but fell in love with when I read it years later. The book was The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn by Mark Twain, which is now I book that I cherish. Here was a story about a boy in his early teens setting out (although not exactly by choice) on an incredible, life-changing adventure. Yet as a young teen reading the story, I somehow was not able to appreciate it.

I think as we get older we not only look back fondly on our formative years, but only as adults are we able to evaluate it and put it into some kind of perspective that fits into who we are now. In an interview about her new book The End of Everything, Megan Abbott talks about her 13 year old protagonist and describes the world of a young teen as ‘big, terrifying, and thrilling’ and how everything takes on a heightened sense of drama.

There is something to that transitional point in our lives, in our early teens, when we are no longer ‘little kids’ but we are not yet grown-ups either. The world is full of mysteries and wonder and it is an exciting and scary time. As we read or write books that center on that time in our lives, it gives us an opportunity to connect once again with who we were then. Not to be there again necessarily, because of course we can’t go back, nor should we really want to. We all have to grow up, but maybe by connecting with stories about childhood, we as adults can rekindle some of the sense of wonder that we had, and the sense that anything in the world is possible.

(My apologies for listing the poster as Daniel, but we just set up Mark's account. It really was written by Mark.)

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