Friday, October 19, 2007

Not Fade Away

"In case there's anyone who doesn't remember, Corning did not begin with the fiber optics business. In the 1950s, Corning manufactured plates and platters and Pyrex pans. What the company was best known for, though, was casserole dishes. Everybody had them, remember? Their trademark was an abstract blue flower.

Since my dad worked for Corning, my mom had every casserole shape ever made. We had one for stew. We had one for soup. We had one for potatoes. If they'd made one for individual spaghetti strands, we'd have had that one too! I can still see the metal cradles that the dishes sat in at the table...

But wait -- why am I going on about casseroles? I think it's because the approach of death has made me realize that there are no unimportant details in life. That childhood sense of wonder is somehow coming back to me. How can I put it? Things, and the meanings that they have, are being reunited in my heart.

Those old casseroles -- maybe they're just chipped and battered pans, but for me they're connected with incredibly precious things, giant notions like Mother, Kitchen, Family Meals.
So cut me some slack if I get nostalgic now and then over trivialities. The thing is, they don't seem trivial to me. I've come to feel that the big things in life are best understood by way of small things. Ignore the small ones, and the big ones just seem like fancy words, slogans without the truth of something you really know, and really feel."
--Peter Barton, Not Fade Away

Just an excerpt from the book I'm reading right now. I already wrote about it on my Goodreads profile, but the story is that this guy at work keeps recommending it (he forgets he recommended it before, so he's done it about 3 times), so I finally bought it remaindered for about $4. I don't normally read memoirs, especially memoirs or stories about cancer, because, well, as the author of this book notes, cancer is like this thing with a life of its own... once it's in the picture, the picture isn't about anything else. And it makes me think of crappy movies like A Walk To Remember. But anyway, this is sort of different, and I'm reading it now, and it's simple and good and I admire the guy who wrote it, partly because he's such a dad, the way my dad is a dad. I don't know if that makes sense. But the other thing I've been thinking about while reading this is what he talks about here: the little insignificant things that matter. I have lately felt as though I've lost memories of little things, and in my reading of this memoir and Jonathan Franzen's The Discomfort Zone, I've felt more and more like I need to start writing the little things down. So I don't lose them forever.

Also, I had, or am in the middle of having, a conversation with Justin about our grandparents, and those stories become the kinds of stories where the little things matter a lot. And then on a meta, writing, authorial level I realized that my feelings about this may be different an interesting if I just write them down... and then I thought, as I have thought a lot recently and failed to put into action, I can write about this. So perhaps I will.

I'll report more about this book when I've finished it.

1 comment:

Kim said...

I really like what you say and how you say it.