"Remember When"

From last night's Sopranos (and I'm paraphrasing):

Tony: 'Remember when' stories are the lowest form of conversation.

Back when I was twenty-two or so, I started working on a novella called (pretentiously enough) "Yesterday's Mythologies," which was all about 'Remember When' stories, but the stories were only days or months old--so, all the characters were essentially trying to make events that had only happened to them recently seem significant, meaningful. And this, especially at that time in my life, seemed like a tremendously stunted thing to do.

I'm not so sure I'd wholly agree with my twenty-two-year-old self, but I do agree with Tony S.: 'Remember when' conversations are pretty tough to endure.


Anonymous said...

Yeah, Chad, but "remember when" stories -- when they tilt toward something more than mere elegy (something, I mean, like devastation of a time and place and way of being in the world) are some of the best stories.


The Old Forest, by Peter Taylor
So Long, See You Tomorrow, by Wm. Maxwell
Meneseteung, by Alice Munro
(in fact, almost every one of Munro's better stories)
(in fact, almost every one of Taylor and Maxwell's better stories)
Wheat that Springeth Green, by J.F. Powers
Sonny's Blues by James Baldwin
(you get the idea . . .)

-kyle minor

Chad Simpson said...

Oh, I agree, Kyle.

It's the people who get stuck remembering less-than-significant whens that both fascinate and irritate me.

I'm all about the devastating remember whens.

By the way...

I read your recent blog post about attending the AFL game with Ian, and I found perfect reason to bring it up in my intro to lit class--when I was accused by a student (and probably justifiably, in a way) of providing them with a reading list that is all devastation, heartache, etc.

It ended up prompting a pretty good conversation.

Chad Simpson said...

And you know...I've still never read anything by William Maxwell. I've had "So Long..." on my bookshelf for about four years--and almost, in fact, took it down last night--but have never read more than a page or two of it.

Maybe it should be next on my list.