Storytime: Growing up with books
Ventura Press, $29.99 pb 346 pp, 9781925384673
Maryanne Wolf’s excellent book about the reading brain, Proust and the Squid: The story and the science of the reading brain (2007), quotes Marcel himself:
There are perhaps no days of our childhood we lived as fully as those … we spent with a favourite book … they have engraved in us so sweet a memory (so much more precious to our present judgment than what we read then with such love), that if we will happen today to leaf through those books of another time, it is for no other reason than that they are the only calendars we have kept of days that have vanished, and we hope to see reflected on their pages the dwellings and ponds which no longer exist.
Jane Sullivan asserts in Storytime that ‘it’s no exaggeration to say that reading has made me what I am’. Sullivan is a journalist, essayist, and novelist, who currently writes ‘Turning Pages’, a column in The Age and Sydney Morning Herald. (She also contributes to ABR.) The young Jane was brought up in London during the 1950s, the daughter of two Australian artist–cartoonists. Here, she re-examines ‘about a dozen’ books that remain fixed in her memory. The writer lays out her framework:
I will first record my memories of them, which might be hazy, or quite wrong. Then I will read them again, and record my new reactions. Because I have a journalist’s curiosity, I will also look around the periphery of the book – at the author, and so on. But I won’t stray too far into the territory of the biographer or the psychologist or the literary critic. This will not be a book about books. It will be a book about my experience of reading those books.