Tuesday, June 10, 2008

I'm sorry to say that MacZine is behaving strangely again - this time, shutting down at odd times, which nice young Chris from Apple told me over the phone was a "colonel panic" - at least that's what it sounded like - or a "kernel panic"?  Did he say "journal panic"?  That's what I had after the fire in my home, when they packed everything up and took it away to storage, and I realised that a lifetime's worth of intimate writing was locked in a warehouse somewhere. Journal panic.  I don't think that's what my computer has.  Anyway, it's not good and she's off to the hospital again tomorrow, so I'll be back to paper and pen.  

I've just finished reading an extraordinary book and a classic of creative non-fiction, "The Things They Carried," by Tim O'Brien.  A well-educated writer and intellect, Tim served in Vietnam until he was wounded and shipped home.  Just as Anne Frank's diary helped us see, in one small voice, the reality of those six million dead, Tim's book brings the hideous reality of that vile war to life, in his portrayal of a team of very young men, lost in a jungle and trying to stay alive. 

But the author is also writing about the art of storytelling itself.  He speaks about the difference between "happening-truth," the cold facts, and "story-truth," the facts told by a writer to make them come alive.  This very issue was also discussed recently in a New York Times interview with the superb humour writer David Sedaris.  

O'Brien writes, "What stories can do, I guess, is make things present.  I can look at things I never looked at.  I can attach faces to grief and love and pity and God.  I can be brave.  I can make myself feel again."  

"The thing about a story," he writes elsewhere, "is that you dream it as you tell it, hoping that others might then dream along with you, and in this way memory and imagination and language combine to make spirits in the head."

I dreamed along with you, Tim O'Brien.  

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