Thursday, July 22, 2010

"Colonizing the Past"

I've scribd my contribution to a "Symposium on Place in Creative Nonfiction" in the recent issue of Center: A Journal of the Literary Arts:
In autobiographical nonfiction, place is elastic, no firmer than smoke. Nostalgia carries with it the desire to return, and memory its own mindfulness, less the urge to go back than the desire to stay put and try to understand. An autobiographical essayist’s relationship to place has to do with his ever having left it. Memory erects a universe of civic construction, where things — fields, buildings, people — remain where you last left them. Physically return years later to the neighborhood in which you were raised and it can look like a cartoon image of overdevelopment, or decay. Changes look incremental to one who never left; to the one returning, the displacement can be overwhelming. But Nabokov insists: “One is always at home in one’s past.”
The symposium features Robert Vivian, William Bradley, Kevin Haworth, and many other interesting writers.

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