Tuesday, March 2, 2010

In memoirs begin responsibilities

Posted By on March 2, 2010, 8:37 PM

It is my father's 75th birthday in April. He wrote some rather turgid yet finally endearing recollections of his childhood and youth. I'm copy editing them to print a few as a surprise birthday present for him. It has proved to be an odd experience.---

Most of my father's family were killed in World War Two when a bomb dropped on their London home. He was just a child. Raised by his grandmother, he was conscripted into the military for several years. He worked for a fluorescent light manufacturer and there met my mother.

Reading the passages where he sees her for the first time is peculiar. It reminded me of one of my favorite short stories that I often taught in English classes in Argentina. Delmore Schwartz was the model for Saul Bellow's tortured artist in Humboldt's gift. His tale In dreams begin responsbilities tells of a youth on the eve of his 21st birthday dreaming of his father proposing to his mother. He stands up in the cinema where the film of the encounter is being projected and screams at them not to do it, that only monstrous children will result.

While I don't have that sensation working on my father's memoirs, there  is that strange feeling at the back of my neck as if someone were whispering disturbing questions to me I didn't quite understand.  

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