There’s a dance I’ve found it necessary to perform in the run up to most every post I’ve written here, and it has me frugging and shagging and doing the monkey and the mashed potato all about the business of worrying that I write too much about the past.
Of the forty-two Fisher Lane pieces I’ve posted since January, well over half are, or appear to be, memoirs; nostalgic in tone, or mining a seam for awkward childhood or awkward at-work comedy, and a number plainly wistful, misty, or confessional. And because of the stats I wear a strip of carpet thin and shuffle and scratch for something, surely, to write about that’s more about life as it’s lived today.
Last night (allow me that retrospection), I finished reading Michael Chabon’s ‘Manhood for Amateurs’; a sumptuous buffet with deeply personal dips that had me reading bits out to B., and wiggling toes with pleasure at his references to Bizarre Love Triangle, and Peanuts, and The Wire, and Lego – there are few writers who provide me with more matey chunks than Chabon, he who put me on too to Lewis Hyde’s Trickster and Ben Katchor’s art, and of course the tender juiciness of James Beard – and it’s something, I know, to be writing two posts on the bounce (here) about the very same guy. But this isn’t writing about him, Michael Chabon, really; it’s about how his book’s ending freed me from the dance.
What the book let me see me in the end, see, is that all of life that’s being lived is… just that. That memories, histories, perspectives on one’s own, are, like Chabon’s children, not separate exercises, or entities, but are the stuff of life right now, and of my life and of B.’s. It’s a lopsided lift of what Chabon was saying, I know, that there are no neat generational handovers, no real-life compartmented time: ‘… the great universal fiction that there is such a thing as time.’
But in the same way, these ‘rememberings’ are the rememberings of now, and are made and understood and living in the now – nothing deathly, or dead, or different, but ‘past and future coinciding’, and, as the writer writes, ‘it’s happening right now.’
Quotes from ‘Daughter of the Commandment’, Michael Chabon, Manhood for Amateurs: The Pleasures and Regrets of a Husband, Father, and Son, HarperCollins, United States, 2009
© Copyright, Steve Mitchell and Fisher Lane, 2012.