Friday, July 31, 2009

My earliest memory of reading; Psyche, Port Moresby and Doggybook

Pav is compiling a book. First experiences of reading. In an aside, I like that I know a couple of real writers now, Pav is indeed claim-to-fame material and I do hope for this reason in particular that she gets the Booker one day for something.

So anyway I added my own recollection, as much an image, a frame of memory interspersed with characters and emotions as a story:

Port Moresby, 4-5 years old, behind is the garden dominated by a couple of huge rainforest trees, perhaps figs, sun filtering in, I'm looking at a blackboard, or maybe one of those word charts, the word I remember was dog, dog was important because of Psyche, my first and only dog, Psyche didn't mind when I was adopted into the family, she adopted me too, her crazy, bug-eyed blue heeler face smiling and happy in my first memories of the world, so I read dog and my father approved and everything lined up in my world.

Later I learned she would stand in front of my cot, becoming aggressive when anyone other than my parents approached.

30 years later I put down a brochure on Steiner schools because they talked of reading like it was a chore. I loved it then, I love it now.

So does Bear.

Mitts is too young of course, but his favourite toy is Doggybook.

Life is more of a continuum than is first apparent...

I do not know whether we will still read, in a way that you and I would now recognise, in a couple of decades. But I hope that the art of enjoying books, and sophisticated narrative, is not lost in the continuing spiral of blogs, tweets, iPhones and high volume information dispersal.

The visceral pleasure of handling the book has not yet been lost. One day, Mitta Man's love of mauling Doggybook may translate into a Phd thesis containing the secret to peace for all humankind.

If we get to the point where it is all downloaded instantly into our brains, I think something will be lost. Call me a luddite, a sentimentalist...


Pavlov's Cat said...

Almost: am writing a book of essays about reading, of which this 'first memory' piece is just one. Thank you for this one, it's a beauty, and I love it that people are telling stories' about their kids' reading as well.

The Accidental Housewife said...

I love love love reading. Nothing downloadable will ever replace it. The smell of an old book, the portability, the way you can quite literally curl up with it. The peaceful repetition of turning the pages. The photo of a favourite person (or dog) that I use as a bookmark. The way a book is exchangeable, swappable, when you are all somewhere boring and have read all your own.

My favourite book is Swallows and Amazons by Arthur Ransome. It was a Christmas present when I was six, and I have read it so many times the cover has fallen off. I take it on all my adventures, and when life gets too hectic and a little too real I can immerse myself in the land of my childhood. It's cheaper than therapy!

I read Dr Seuss' "I can read with my eyes shut" this morning, it's a powerful message simply put.

Pilland said...

Your report is very interesting indeed. I invite You to see a great collection of views of borders (riigipiirid) in my Italian-Estonian site
Best wishes from Italy!