I’m reading Patricia Hampl’s I Could Tell You Stories: Sojourns in the Land of Memory; so far a wonderfully thought-provoking book. She tells the story of a childhood memory and then goes back for a second draft, dissects it, finding lies in the first draft. It is her theory that the first draft is valuable for what the heart reveals, unfettered by the will; the second draft, when you go back and analyze the details of the first draft, creates symbols out of these details. “For meaning is not ‘attached’ to the detail by the memoirist; meaning is revealed.” I have never analyzed the details of the first draft of a memory. This makes me want to go back to some of the earlier paragraphs of this blog and try to winkle out some meaning from the details.
Hampl’s prose style is so good that it almost, but doesn’t quite, call attention to itself. The first two pages are brilliant.