Friday, February 04, 2011

On the up and up

kw: book reviews, memoirs, letters, devotional

Do you remember details of your life before the teen years? Yeah, me neither. I can recall an event or two per year prior to about age 14, and I think I have a better-than-average memory. How can we know what we have lost? If we have a mother like Kelly Corrigan, not all will be lost. In her book Lift, written as a longish letter to her children, she does more than remind of them of their early childhoods; she opens her heart to reveal her attitudes in those times.

At about 16,000 words, this is a book I could finish in a sitting. A half hour or so would suffice. But Evelyn Wood techniques are not appropriate here. I dwelt on this story and that, as the children and their mother and their interactions were gradually revealed. It seems that the slower I read, the better the reading. Reading a novel, I like one I can race through. In Lift, the point is not the memory of the writing, but the writing as memory. It requires imprinting.

The book is of a genre I call secular devotional. Though God is scarcely mentioned, the tone of many portions is that of sacred things. We all can understand (one half of us better than the other): regardless of her faith in God, a mother's children are sacred to her.

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