My Name is Memory

10/27/2009 at 5:37 am (My Name Is Memory)

My name is not memory, in fact. But that is the name of my new book, which I just finished this week. I am excited about it. It will be published by Riverhead Books in early June.

But before I go on, I have to apologize. I think I am the worst multi-tasker in the world. No, that is too grand. I am a bad multi-tasker. I have a lot of trouble focusing on writing a book while also keeping my website up to date (not to mention taking care of my children, making dinner, calling my mom back, keeping the pets alive and so on.) To those of you who have continued to check in, thank you. I am so grateful to you for being interested in my books and for letting me know your thoughts. I’m sorry I haven’t been writing in and updating the site more frequently. I hope to do better.

This new book is kind of a departure for me. Not a total departure–it’s mainly about love. But it takes place on a broad canvas of time. I’m going to include a part of a scene below to give you an idea of it. This scene is told from the point of view of Daniel, a young man blessed (or cursed, it often seems) with a long history and a very unusual memory.

Thanks for reading. I’ll write again soon.
“Well. It’s a strange thing,” I explained. “With
each birth your body starts out fresh and mostly blank, but then you print yourself
on it over time. You hold onto
old experiences: injuries, injustices, and great love affairs, too.” I glanced up at Sophia. “And you hold them in your joints and
your organs and wear them on your skin.” 

“You do.” She was giving me that same look of indulgence, but it was less
confident. 

“We all do.”
“Because we live again and again?”
“Most of us.”
“Not all of us?” Her indulgence showed more signs of genuinely wanting to know.

“Some live only once. Some a very few times. And some just go on and on and on.”
“Why?”
I put my head back on my pillow. “That is hard to explain. I’m not sure I really know.”
“And you?”
“I’ve lived many times.”
“And you remember them?”
“Yes. That’s where I’m different than most people.”
“I’ll say. And what about me?” She looked like she wasn’t going to believe the answer, but slightly feared it anyway.
“You’ve also lived many times. But your memory is just average.”
“Clearly.” She laughed. “Have you known me for all of them?”
“I’ve tried. But no, not all.”
“And why can’t I remember?”
“You can more than you think. Those memories are in there somewhere. You act on them in ways you don’t realized. They determine how you respond to people, the things you love and the things you fear. A lot of our irrational behavior would look more rational if you could see it in the context of your whole long life.”
It was amazing the things I was will to tell her if she was willing to listen, and she was. I touched the hem of her sleeve. “I know enough about you to know you love horses and you probably dream about them. You probably dream of the desert sometimes and maybe taking a bath outdoors. Your nightmares are usually about fire. You have problems with your voice and your throat sometimes–that was always your weak spot . . .”
Her face was rapt. “Why?”
“You were strangled a long time ago.”
Her alarm was a mix of real and pretend. “By whom?”
“Your husband.”
“Awful. Why did I marry him?”
“You didn’t have a choice.”
“And you knew this man?”
“He was my brother.”
“Long dead, I hope.”
“Yes, but bearing a grudge through history, I fear.”
I could see by her face, she was trying to figure out where to put all of this. “Are you a psychic?” she asked.
I smiled and shook my head. “Although most psychics, if they are any good, do have some memory of old lives. And so do most of the people we consider insane. An asylum is about the densest concentration of people with partial memory you will ever find. They get flashes and visions, but usually not in the right order.”
She looked at me sympathetically, wondering if that’s where I belonged. “Is that what you do?”
“No. I remember everything.”
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