Tuesday, August 3, 2010

Aimless Reading: The J's, Part 1 (Edmond Jabès)

Jabès, Edmond
The Book of Questions
Volume 1

Purchased at Talking Leaves...Books. I only own volume one, which I don't think I ever finished reading.

To continue with the project begun yesterday:

1975: We moved to a third house in Los Gatos when I was six or seven. My mother and I did manage to locate this house on Google Maps. It's a small, single-story, 50's era suburban home. It has a large tree in the front yard, which I remember because once some kids wrapped it in toilet paper. It had a large wooden deck in the back yard. My school was nearby.

I remember climbing the fence.

I remember my great Aunt Nora, the chain-smoking Irishwoman, visiting us. She told me she could sic the leprechauns on me if I behaved badly.

I remember I slept on the top bunk of a bunkbed in a room with one or both of my younger brothers.

I remember my babysitter, M., whose father committed suicide. It happened on a day when it snowed. It almost never snowed in that part of California, and people I've met from there still remember THAT snow. It melted the next day. My mother told me he'd slipped while shoveling the driveway and hit his head and died. I found out years later that's he'd rented a hotel room and shot himself.

I remember almost choking on a round hard candy of some sort. My father's friend visiting from Chicago grabbed me by the ankles, hung me upside down like a newborn and slapped me on the back until I coughed it onto the front lawn.

I remember having a friend up the street whose father punched him. My father often hit me, but he never punched. I remember, weirdly, feeling jealous that I only got slapped but not punched, like somehow my friend learned how to be tougher than me because his father was more violent than mine.

I remember going to the school nearby, Blossom Hill Elementary, for second grade. I had a friend named Thor. He often wore a t-shirt bearing the image of the cartoon character of the same name. I remember taking French classes after school. I remember playing the werewolf in a class Halloween play. I remember drawing elaborate pictures in class that told stories based on episodes of Gillgan's Island. I still have them.

I remember going to the bathroom at the school one day after lunch, finishing quickly, then noticing that everyone else was still peeing, and feeling that maybe there was something wrong with me because I didn't take as long to pee as everyone else.

I remember when my father told me we were moving to Washington, D.C., during the bicentennial, and how that fact made the move even more exciting.

from The Book of Questions, Volume 1

"My story has been told many times."

"What is your story?"

"Ours, insofar as it is absent."

"I do not understand."

"Speaking tortures me."

"Where are you?"

"In what I say."

"What is your truth?"

"What lacerates me."

"And your salvation?"

"Forgetting what I said."

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