In old age you can close your eyes and summon your youth at will. As a writer it puts one at a distinct advantage.Author of both adult and children's novels, Penelope Lively is interviewed by Sarah Crowne in today's Guardian. Her novel Family Album comes out next month and is described as :
... a sophisticated investigation into the effects of time's passage and the reliability of memory presented in the guise of a minor-key domestic drama.Fascinated I am, by the way memory is depicted in fiction, so this means the novel is a must-read.
Lively says on the subject :
The idea that memory is linear is nonsense. What we have in our heads is a collection of frames. As to time itself - can it be linear when all these snatches of other presents exist at once in your mind? A very elusive and tricky concept, time.And her main character muses :
Chronology irritates me. There is no chronology inside my head. I am composed of a myriad Claudias who spin and mix and part like sparks of sunlight on water. The pack of cards I carry around is forever shuffled and re-shuffled; there is no sequence, everything happens at once. The machines of the new technology, I understand, perform in much the same way: all knowledge is stored, to be summoned up at the flick of a key. They sound, in theory, more efficient. Some of my keys don't work; others demand pass-words, codes, random unlocking sequences. The collective past, curiously, provides these. It is public property, but it is also deeply private. We all look differently at it. My Victorians are not your Victorians. My seventeenth century is not yours ... The signals of my own past come from the received past. The lives of others slot into my own life. I, me. Claudia H.