It is 60 degrees outside with a blue sky, but I cannot leave the bed and the five new books I've found in my sister's house in Portland. One of the books is Orhan Pamuk's memories of Istanbul which I tear through this morning, surprised to find the biography of that great city so nicely disguised as stories about his family. Since today is the 100th birthday of my own father -- officialized by a call from my sister from Oaxaca to tell my niece to lgiht a small candle in the kitchen to stoke our memories -- the personal reflections are especially pricking me to write my own extravagant childhood into existence and out of folklore. I carry this expectation of eventual industry like a stone in the suitcase of my dreams. When will I write this tiny opus? So Pamuk's descripions of his upbringing in a scandalized family in Istanbul which slowly loses its money and standing in a mirror of Turkey's own decline provides me an example of how easily I can craft my own childhood story, since his book is full of pictures and digressions. There is a fabulous section on the engravings of Istanbul by the German artist Melling, for example, but also precise observations such as this:
"When, in the tones ordinarily reserved for the discussing the foundation of a nation, my grandmother spoke of my grandfather, who had died so young, and pointed at the pictures on the tables and walls, it seemed that she -- like me -- was pulled in two directions, wanting to get on with life but also longing to capture the moment of perfection, savoring the ordinary but still honoring the ideal."