Memory Failures

Friday, January 8, 2010

There's a funny thing about memory: It never gets things just right. My version is not your version, and it is certainly not his.

I was reminded of this the other day, as I began to revisit the hundreds of photographs I've taken of Seville and this specific cortijo outside Seville, where the bulk of the action in the novel I'm now revising takes place. Having worked on this novel for the past ten years, my creating mind has altered my recollecting mind, so that I had begun to remember this place with all the (crafted, fabricated) color and detail that I have ascribed to it in the novel. By now, of course, the real cortijo has little to do with the novel's cortijo. I had, frankly, forgotten that.

Here, for example, is an early scene, in which Jessa, a Philadelphia teen, is seeing the place photographed above for the first time.

Finally Miguel steers left, and the skinny line of road goes lumpy. There are olive trees on the one side, sunflowers on the other, some horses and a lonely mule, a patch of blooming cacti, lizards, and at the road’s end, a wide white stucco wall punched through with a center arch whose stucco rim is painted peach. Above the archway, Los Nietos is spelled out with blue tile, and beyond the archway is a courtyard, and in the windows of the house blue curtains hang, their bottom's brushing the begonias in the peeling window boxes. Everyone I know is at the Jersey shore—Kevin, Ellie, Robb, and Tim—thinking that the sea goes on forever.


bermudaonion said...

You are so right about memory! My sister and I remember some things from our childhood in completely different ways.

I'm really excited about this book - it sounds wonderful!

Jinksy said...

Writing uses conglomerate memories mixed with imagination - nothing wrong with that.

Sarah Stevenson said...

Wonderful photo, and I loved reading the excerpt--we spent a little time in Seville during our trip this past fall and found the whole region to be truly striking...Granada...Ronda...Cordoba. I'm still going through our photos but I know just having them will help me crystallize those memories.

I look forward to reading more of the book someday soon!

Ravenous Reader said...

Where memory leaves off, imagination begins. And you imagine so well...

septembermom said...

Memory is a rich source of material. I rely on it often.

Love the photo.

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