Showing 471 - 480 of 514 annotations tagged with the keyword "Memory"

Outside Passage

Scully, Julia

Last Updated: Aug-17-1998
Annotated by:
Aull, Felice

Primary Category: Literature / Nonfiction

Genre: Memoir

Summary:

Subtitled, A Memoir of an Alaskan Childhood, this spare, compelling work recalls young Julia's difficult and unusual life in a splintered family living "at the edge of the world." When Julia was born in 1929 the family had just moved to Seattle and entered an economic crisis--"somehow, my father had been bilked out of their money." (17) The marriage went downhill as poverty and the father's serious illness compounded an underlying conjugal incompatibility.

Julia was only seven years old when she and her older sister Lillian found their father dead--a suicide. "Nothing is said about how my father died, or even, in fact, that he is dead." (8) Not long thereafter Julia's mother, Rose, without any explanation or advance warning, left the girls at the Pacific Hebrew Orphan Asylum; there they remained for two years. Rose went to Nome, Alaska to try to find work. "Meanwhile, I strive to be a model orphan. I do all my chores . . . I'm quiet, do well in school, am extremely polite. And most of the time, I'm afraid." (33)

There follows another stay in a different orphanage. Here "I never hear my name . . . No one ever touches me. And, in my memory of that time, that place, I am always alone." (72) Finally, they join their mother again in a remote mining outpost of Alaska where Rose operates a roadhouse. Moving with the seasons back and forth between the outpost and the city of Nome, Julia's life takes on a semblance of normalcy. The environment is strange but interesting, the men who frequent the roadhouse are rough but friendly--there is a sense of camaraderie.

As Julia reaches puberty she becomes subliminally aware of a relationship between her mother and the owner of the Nome liquor store, Cappy. Cappy is married--his family is back in Seattle. There is never any open display of affection between Cappy and Rose, but he eats his meals with them and is almost a surrogate father to Julia and her sister. Suddenly Rose decides to move the family to Fairbanks. Here there is a "secret scenario" that Julia only pieces together many years later. As the events unfold in Fairbanks, Julia knows only that her mother is "distracted, not there." And that a man "carrying a small black satchel" comes to the house and leaves her mother moaning in bed.

Once more, Rose leaves her now teenaged children behind as she returns to Nome. It is wartime and Lillian and Julia find jobs at the military base in Fairbanks. As suddenly as they came to Fairbanks, they are summoned back to Nome--no questions asked, no explanations given. Cappy's son is missing in action. Once again, Julia cannot understand the silence, the absence of grief displayed--"Isn't anybody sad? Isn't anybody upset?" (181) Rose's relationship with Cappy quietly ends.

As Julia finishes high school she fantasizes about leaving Nome, going to college, becoming a journalist--fantasies inspired by Rosalind Russell's role in the film, His Girl Friday, and by Sinclair Lewis's critique of small town life in the novel, Main Street. "I begin to discern, vaguely, tentatively, that somewhere there exists a world where the accepted language is the one that Sinclair Lewis speaks--a language of ideas and, even, of feelings." (212) Indeed, as the book jacket notes, the author graduated from Stanford and became a magazine editor; she lives in Manhattan.

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Annotated by:
Coulehan, Jack

Primary Category: Literature / Nonfiction

Genre: Case Study

Summary:

During the Battle of Smolensk in the Second Word War, a soldier named Zazetsky sustained a severe head wound, causing "massive damage to the left occipito-parietal region of his brain." This injury shattered his whole perceptual world. His memory, his visual fields, his bodily perception, even his knowledge of bodily functioning--all break into fragments, causing him to experience the world (and himself) as constantly shifting and unstable.

Zazetsky coped with this fragmentation by writing a journal of his thoughts and memories as they occurred, day after day, for 20 years. He then arranged and ordered these entries, in an attempt to reconstruct his lost "self." From over 3000 pages of this journal material, the neurologist A. R. Luria has constructed this extended case history from which emerges a remarkable portrait of Zazetsky as a determined and courageous human being. Zazetsky's first-person account is interspersed with comments and descriptions by Luria himself, explaining the relevant structure and function of the brain.

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Living at Home

Gordon, Mary

Last Updated: Jun-25-1998
Annotated by:
McEntyre, Marilyn

Primary Category: Literature / Fiction

Genre: Novella

Summary:

The narrator of this long, lyrical musing is a psychiatrist who works with autistic children. Though much of the narrative is a reflection on her mid-life relationship with a journalist lover who risks death to report on places in political turmoil, her observations about her patients provide a recurrent motif and reference point.

Several long passages detail the fascination and frustration involved in working with her young patients, what she has learned from them about limits, patience, and the semiotics of autism. She also reflects on how that learning has allowed her to understand "normal" people differently. One of the subtle but strong themes of the story is the question of what "normal" means.

A secondary focus is her close attachment to her two grown sons. This is developed through memories of particular scenes of their childhood that she identifies as bonding moments. Another focus is her relationship with her mother, now dwindling into mental incompetence and squalor in her old age. Thinking about these relationships, with lover, sons, mother and patients, is a way of taking stock of how the strands of her life have brought her to a place of qualified peace in mid-life.

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Range of Motion

Berg, Elizabeth

Last Updated: Apr-16-1998
Annotated by:
McEntyre, Marilyn

Primary Category: Literature / Fiction

Genre: Novel

Summary:

Lainey's husband, Jay, has been in a coma for weeks, now extending into months. She takes care of their daughters, visits him daily, finds what solace is possible with her resilient, tough-minded, and compassionate neighbor, Alice, and continues to believe he will wake up when the medical staff have largely given up hope.

As she sits with him, trying to adjust and foster her hopes, bringing familiar smells, textures, and sounds from home in the hope of triggering response, she imagines his state of mind. Interludes that work a little like prose poems suggest something of the liminal state he may inhabit. Lainey meets a fellow visitor at the nursing home whose wife dies after having been comatose for 6 months.

Lainey's life is kept from complete inward focus by Alice's efforts to keep her going out, and by Alice's own problems which include a straying husband who finally reveals that he's been struggling with homosexuality and has fallen in love with another man. Jay finally awakens and life returns to something like normal, but with an abiding awareness of the mystery of consciousness and memory, and a heightened sense of the preciousness of consciousness, choice, and the ordinariness of daily life.

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Annotated by:
Belling, Catherine

Primary Category: Literature / Poetry

Genre: Anthology (Poems)

Summary:

This is a collection of 111 poems, all about women who are old. As the editor says in her introduction, it is not a book about becoming old, but about being old, and the book bears the pointed reminder that an old woman is still a woman, as well as being old (vii). The poems are arranged in ten sections, from portraits of old women (usually grandmothers, here) as seen by the young, through explorations of their work and wisdom, their relationships and sexuality, the vivid and sometimes shocking realities of their bodies, their illnesses and weaknesses, institutionalization and nursing homes, and finally, their confrontations with death and the sense of loss in those they leave behind.

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Afternoon Memory

Soto, Gary

Last Updated: Mar-26-1998
Annotated by:
Aull, Felice

Primary Category: Literature / Poetry

Genre: Poem

Summary:

The narrator find himself in the kitchen where "the faucet drips" and "The magnets on the refrigerator crawl down / with the gravity of expired coupons and doctor bills." He looks into the refrigerator, trying to remember whether he has seen any of its contents before. He is preoccupied with his body, which is aging. His mind wanders. Suddenly, he is alert again, oriented to the present and ready to take charge--of his diet and of his life. "I'm full of hope. / I open the refrigerator. / I've seen this stuff before."

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The Assault

Mulisch, Harry

Last Updated: Mar-05-1998
Annotated by:
Willms, Janice

Primary Category: Literature / Fiction

Genre: Novel

Summary:

In the winter of 1945 during the last days of the Nazi occupation of Holland, a Nazi collaborator is assassinated.

In retaliation, the Germans execute the adults in a Dutch family but eventually deliver one 12 year old son to safety. The Assault traces the lifelong repercussions of this event on Anton's life. It examines his attempts to forget and the strange periodic "episodes," little chance events, that continue to force the memory to surface long enough to become complete enough that he, as an aging adult, can finally effect closure and true "forgetting."

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Imagining Argentina

Thornton, Lawrence

Last Updated: Mar-05-1998
Annotated by:
Willms, Janice

Primary Category: Literature / Fiction

Genre: Novel

Summary:

This mystical tale of memory and imagination in the face of personal tragedy is set in Argentina during the political upheavals of the 1970's. It is a story of the disappeareds, police prisoners spirited away for questionable offenses, tortured, and usually killed. The plot revolves around a man who has the gift of imagining the locations and the futures of many of the missing persons, but he cannot locate, by the same means, his own beloved wife. The power of memory and imagination in guiding an oppressed people through the darkest days of their struggle is the central concern of the work.

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School of the Sun

Matute, Ana Maria

Last Updated: Mar-05-1998
Annotated by:
Marta, Jan

Primary Category: Literature / Fiction

Genre: Novel

Summary:

At the beginning of the Spanish Civil War, while her father fights for the Republicans against Franco's forces which her deceased mother's family supports, fourteen-year-old Matia is forced to leave her elderly nanny and go to live with her maternal grandmother, aunt, and her fifteen-year-old male cousin, Borja. This is the summer the frightened, rebellious, and homesick Matia struggles with her changing body, and the changing relationships and behaviors she must have as a woman in her society. This is the summer Matia learns of social class, politics, sex, and family secrets; of love, honor, and betrayal.

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The Flanders Road

Simon, Claude

Last Updated: Mar-05-1998
Annotated by:
Marta, Jan

Primary Category: Literature / Fiction

Genre: Novel

Summary:

At some indeterminate point in time and space following World War II, George remembers telling Corinne the story he has told Blum. The discontinuous, contiguous rememberings and tellings--rememberings of tellings, tellings of rememberings--are the labyrinthine elements of George's searches for meanings: to his own life, to his ancestral identity, to the disastrous routing of French troops by German in May 1940, to the human condition. In the course of their textual wanderings, narrator and reader return again and again to specific scenes--trying to make sense of life and death, and the cardinal, corporal points between.

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