Thursday, August 29, 2013

Good Reads Review

Reviewer Matt Lived in the Shirley Jackson house as found in the Jamaica Kincaid's,  See Now Then

"So I read "See Then Now" yesterday afternoon. I read it because I enjoy Jamaica's voice. I also read it because it the vast majority of the book takes place in the house I grew up in, the Shirley Jackson house. Jamaica's house was across the street.

I can see how the appearance of folks from the neighborhood might cause some anxiety to those referenced, but there was nothing that struck me as particularly fanciful. Jamaica is a self-centered person and always has been. I think she's aware of this fact and I've always thought this facet of her personality made her more interesting. Jamaica is a storyteller and I appreciate storytellers far more than reporters. This book is obviously her take on things rather than an attempt to depict things as they actually are/were, but I can see things as they were through her eyes. We all see the past modified by time. Recent studies have shown that each time we remember a past event we are in fact remembering the last remembrance of that event rather than the event itself. Our self image as a product of our memory is nothing more than an ongoing game of telephone we play with ourselves. This is the reason that the courts no longer give weight to eye-witness accounts during criminal proceedings. This is why it's irrelevant whether or not this book is a novel or a memoir.

The book was probably not fair to her ex-husband (and children). I guess I think that's okay. We should all probably be nicer to others, particularly our own families. In my future memoir of my hometown I'll probably be kinder to everyone. If Jamaica had done so it would seem false, particularly given the temporal proximity to her divorce and the abandonment/maturing by her babies. I do think it was fair to the village, a place where the volunteer fire department does spend more time washing their trucks than fighting fires and people are occasionally buried in their hunting clothes. Not that that's all there is to the place, but it is part of it."

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