What we, or at any rate what I, refer to confidently as memory-meaning a moment, a scene, a fact that has been subjected to a fixative and thereby rescued from oblivion-is really a form of storytelling that goes on continually in the mind and often changes with the telling. Too many conflicting emotional interests are involved for life ever to be wholly acceptable, and possibly it is the work of the storyteller to rearrange things so that they conform to this end. In any case, in talking about the past we lie with every breath we draw.
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There is nothing so difficult to arrive at as the nature and personality of one's parents. Death, about which so much mystery is made, is perhaps no mystery at all. But the history of one's parents has to be pieced together from fragments, their motives and characters guessed at, and the truth about them remains deeply buried, like a boulder that projects one small surface above the level of smooth lawn, and when you come to dig around it, it proves to be too large ever to move, though each year's frost forces it up a little higher.
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It seemed like a mistake. And mistakes ought to be rectified, only this one couldn't be. Between the way things used to be and the way they were now was a void that couldn't be crossed. I had to find an explanation other than the real one, which was that we were no more immune to misfortune than anybody else, and the idea that kept recurring to me... was that I had inadvertently walked through a door that I shouldn't have gone through and couldn't get back to the place I hadn't meant to leave. Actually, it was other way round: I hadn't gone anywhere and nothing was changed, so far as the roof over our heads was concerned, it was just that she was in the cemetery.
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The world (including Drapervilleh is not a nice place, and the innocent and the young have to take their chances. They cannot be watched over, twenty-four hours of the day. At what moment, from what hiding-place, the idea of evil will strike, there is no telling. And when it does, the result is not always disastrous. Children have their own incalculable strength and weakness, and this, for all their seeming helplessness, will determine the pattern of their lives. Even when you suspect why they fall downstairs, you cannot be sure. You have no way of knowing whether their fright is permanent or can be healed by putting butter on the large lump that comes out on their foreheads after a fall.
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Because I actively enjoy sleeping, dreams, the unexplainable dialogues that take place in my head as I am drifting off, all that, I tell myself that lying down to an afternoon nap that goes on and on through eternity is not something to be concerned about. What spoils this pleasant fancy is the recollection that when people are dead they don't read books. This I find unbearable.
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The view after seventy is breathtaking. What is lacking is someone, anyone, of the older generation to whom you can turn when you want to satisfy your curiosity about some detail of the landscape of the past. There is no longer any older generation. You have become it, while your mind was mostly on other matters