Friday, December 14, 2007

My John and Betty Reader

The first book I ever owned, as opposed to the first read to me (by my grandmother - 'Bib and Bud - Their Adventures') was 'John and Betty'. Primary school, maybe Grade 1. It was a slim volume and had a soft cover. And finished up on the top of the wardrobe in my bedroom - it was still there when I was a teenager.

I recall the process of reading was a real mystery to me. The teacher expected her pupils to know how to do it and was scathing if you couldn't. Old school teaching!

But there is a real pleasure just remembering sensory things about the book. Such as the distinctive smell of the pages. And their glossy feel to the touch. The way the book flopped when you picked it up, as a hardback do not.

But when I goggled-imaged it, I was strangely disappointed. Some things about it were not as I remembered. And I had wanted to have an easy nostalgic romp seeing it again.

The illustrations seemed different, though I had only the vaguest idea of what the originals had been like. And the story seemed nothing like what I could not even remember!

So I began to think about the potentially tricky relationship between memory and fact or actuality. Particularly when you have a sense the two are seriously not matching up.

I have the actuality now - the book itself, or JPEG's of it - but I reject this reality as it's not convincing for me. I can't imagine adjusting my memory in some way to align it with these files. It's not just the 'wrong' images and text. What in fact seems more important to me are all the feelings and the general atmosphere generated by my version of the primer. I think the challenge is to create my own real reader. And sleep soundly at night again.

No comments:

Post a Comment