In The Telescope in the Parlor: Essays on Life and Literature, which I reviewed for the San Francisco Chronicle in January 2005, novelist James McConkey maintains it is an author’s memory and experience that most informs the reading of the text. But other times it is the memory of a character that most shapes the text itself, such as Rosa’s memories of Sutpen in Faulkner’s Absalom, Absalom!.

In his latest novel A Far Country, which I reviewed for the Atlanta Journal Constitution in 2006, Daniel Mason writes of his protagonist that “her memory was only a child’s memory, made of smells and light and the uneven surface of the road.”

This relates well to what follows, my response to Kanani from Easy Writer‘s request that I write about my earliest and clearest memory. I suppose it’s not too clear, but it’s early: my best guess is two or three years old.

I was walking, everything big and tall, my father with a full mustache and my clothes bunched and scratchy. The film in my mind is grainy, as if back lit with florescence then sketched by a comic book illustrator. There’s nothing profound, just an overwhelming rush of senses: high lights, rough wooden end tables, taut rice paper screens, cold tile with sandpaper grooves, and a peppermint Tic Tac. Oh how I wanted to eat it, but once upon my tongue, oh how it burned. Burned and burned into my taste buds, flowing through my saliva, until I spat it out and into the toilet. Then I watched, my father by my side, with muddled pinpricks of sadness and regret, as it journeyed in spirals away and into the deep flush. It’s the emotion I remember most. I begged for it, only to discard it, nearly unused. A gift, thrown away.

Photo Copyright Christine Thomas 2007

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