"I did not read everything word for word. Some books and magazines I skimmed as though I were flying over a landscape, and as I did I was aware of already knowing what was written in them. As though a single word could summon back a thousand others, or could blossom into a full-bodied summary, likethose Japanese flowers that open in water. As though something were striking out on its own to settle in my memory, to keep Oedipus and Don Quixote company. At times the short circuit was caused by drawing, three thousand words for one picture. At times I would read slowly, savoring a phrase, a passage, a chapter, experiencing perhaps the same emotions sparked by my first, forgotten reading."
Waiting for the coffee to finish percolating, I keep going back to Eco's perception of rereading his life. In an attempt to regain is memory, Eco's narrator, Yambo, retreats to his family home and spends hours sweating in the attic or in his grandfather's old study, refamiliarizing himself, with, well, himself. Would you want to reread all the books of you childhood? I know many of the ones that I remember are part of popular culture and I've reread them many times since my first experience with them, but I'm not thinking about Curious George or Dr. Seuss. More like Robert Louis Stevenson or Jules Verne, as Eco writes about. The problem with my childhood, is that the books of my youth are nothing on par with Eco or most others. Since I didn't start reading or appreciating stories until the seventh grade, when I was a little bit older, my memories of Matt Christopher sports novels. I know many readers still remember the books their parents read them or they read to themselves on their top bunk at night. My only other frame of referene is the Hardy Boys and Nancy Drew. I seemingly read every mystery, but lack the memory of particular episodes.
In Eco's The Mysterious Flame of Queen Loana,as Yambo discovers a memory brought out by a particular book, I feel like I'm remembering something as well. It's impossible, I know. But it's a mysterious and wonderful feeling to have a memory of something you didn't experience. As Yambo plays pulls out his notebooks from his grammar school days during World War II, I'm rummaging through the attic of my youth, spreading out my life for the first time...again. I had never heard of Le Avventure di Ciuffettino...The Adventures of Ciuffettino. A boy who had "an immense quiff that gave him a curious appearence, causing him to resemble a feather duster. And do you know, he was fond of his quiff!
I never had a Ciuffettino, but because of Eco, I now hold part of him and will only hope to get more.
Eco The Mysterious Flame of Queen Loana
W.G. Sebald After Nature
Billie Holiday Lady in Satin