Tuesday, August 19, 2008

Bad memories make good memoirs

Over a rooftop dinner (whole sea bass with wasabi, lemon slices and flowering scallions wrapped in foil and grilled, avocado-and-bell-pepper tossed salad, fresh corn-on-the-cob, and lime-and-agave-syrup-ade) with neighborhood friends JS and GW, the talk turned to eccentric parents—Louise Bourgeois, my own mother, JS's mother, the parents of Jeannette Walls in The Glass Castle. In that vein, more or less, JS told the story of a 15-year-old girl she knows who was about to be orphaned, and not one of the 12 siblings of her terminally ill mother was willing to take her in. JS drew the girl aside and told her, "Take notes—they will come in handy when you write your book. Bad memories make good memoirs." The girl was (according to JS) much cheered by this suggestion.

I thought it was excellent advice, so I passed it on to my daughter when she arrived a bit later. C appeared confused. "But I had a happy childhood," quoth she. Are there sweeter words in the parental universe?

A great dinner all around!

1 comment:

Robin Amos Kahn said...

I had a hard time with Jeannette Walls' book. I tried so hard with my daughter and felt like I didn't do a good job and her parents were terrible and she turned out great. It really annoyed me.

But your dinner sounds amazing!

And it ended on such a nice note.