Saturday, 21 November 2015

Book recommendation . "The Theft of Memory"

The Theft
of Memory

Losing My Father,
One Day at a Time

This is a lovely memoir by Jonathan Kozol (author of "Amazing Grace", "Death at an Early Age" and others).  The book is published by Crown Publishers, New York, 2015. $26

Mr. Kozol writes with tender affection, deep insight, and loving honesty about his father Dr. Harry Kozol.

Dr.  Kozol was a nationally noted specialist in disorders of the brain.  He was, the book jacket says, "an unusually intuitive clinician with a special gift for diagnosing interwoven elements of neurological and psychiatric illnesses in highly complicated and created people".

But, (to quote from the book jacket again) "... The Theft of Memory in not primarily about a doctor's public life. The heat of the book lies in the bond between a father and his son and the ways in which that bond intensified even as Harry's verbal skills and cogency progressively abandoned him".

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I was intrigued by Jonathan Kozol's discussion of  memory, not as "a bank account, or storage box, in which our memories are waiting for us to retrieve them - to reach in and pull them out - but that there is, instead, only the act of remembering itself, in which electrochemical activities of the brain re-create portions of a memory that may be accurate reflections of or previous experiences, but frequently are not."  

"Memory is not a literal reproduction of the past:, writes Daniel Schacter, the Chair of the Department of Psychology at Harvard University........... It is, instead, a "constructive process"  by means of which "bits and ices of information" that may come from a variety of sources are reassembled, as it were, into a new reality".

Previous two paragraphs heavily dependent on the book pp 234/235.

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We re-create and reinvent some portions of our memories! (p  235)

Jonathan Kozol was fortunate enough to have a vast store of his father's documents and letters (i.e written sources, contemporary to events in his father's life)  through which he was able to corroborate many of his memories

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One again:  Mr. Kozol writes with tender affection, deep insight, and loving honesty about his father Dr. Harry Kozol.

My went back to Sarasota's Fruitville Library on Saturday 22nd November 2015

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