Tuesday, August 12, 2008

Remembering books

I went home last night and learned that at least half of the first lines I quoted from memory below were completely wrong. But not because I couldn't remember and just guessed, I actually had remembered them wrong.

Which makes me wonder: what else have I remembered wrong? Does Odysseus not summon a great army of flaming soldiers to help him defeat Vader after all? Is Tuck not everlasting?

Ha ha. Seriously. The gap between what I meant to write and what actually appeared on the page is familiar to me. But the gap between what I read and what I thought I read ... that's a new one. We can't really control our stories once they go out into the world. Every reader will live that story differently; remember it differently.

I like to think that a book is more than a suggestion, but if we accept the fact that readers co-create the story with the author as part of the act of reading ... well, we have to let go.

2 comments:

Peter S said...

[cackling and steepling fingers] Good...good!

I was thinking that I was un-edumacated 'Merican for not having memorized opening lines from Great Literature.

And kudos for taking the guesses, getting them wrong, admitting, then learning.

S R Wood said...

I know, I know. Brain is filled with odd and sometimes conflicting information. Thanx, brain, now I have some hybrid cringing stepchild of the Quadratic Equation pushing out more important things like the opening line of Swallows and Amazons. "Negative B plus or minus the square root of B squared over 4 A C" or some nonsense.

At least the last two were right.