Saturday, September 18, 2010

For White Girls, Who Have Forgotten So Much of Everything They Ever Read

My post is not only for white girls, of course. And males are welcome here too. I have that language on the brain after reading an article about Ntozke Shange and For Colored Girls Who Have Considered Suicide/ When the Rainbow Is Enuf . Actually, the article focuses on her new novel that she cowrote with her sister. It does mention that Tyler Perry directed the film.

My reaction might be similar to yours: Tyler Perry???!!!! Really? But I'm willing to be surprised. I'm willing to suspend my disbelief because of the amazing cast. And of course, because of the luminous quality of Shange's writing.

But then, to my shock, I realized that I can't actually recall much of that writing. Now I've read the text, several times, and seen it performed. Granted, that's getting to be a long time ago, way back in grad school, in the early 90's. But I remember weeping because I was so moved. I remember carrying the book around with me when I needed courage during those grad school years.

Very well, back to the bookshelf, holder of all knowledge. But that book seems to have migrated to someone else's library. Or did I ever own it? Maybe I just kept renewing it from the library.

It staggers me, to think about how much I've spent on the books that I no longer own. It staggers me to think about all the books I've read but no longer remember. But I am not alone.

I read this article in The New York Times, which revolves around this issue: "So we in the forgetful majority must, I think, confront the following question: Why read books if we can’t remember what’s in them?" It goes on to reassure us that those books have become embedded in our neural pathways, even if we can't remember the specifics.

Still, I wish I could remember half of all the books I've read.

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