by Zoe Pollock
Last weekend I finished Anthony Doerr's recent collection of stories, "Memory Wall." It's a breathtaking book, not only for the range of stories it tells and the near-perfect writing, but for its ability to capture memories and how we spend our entire adult lives reliving them. In one of my favorite passages, near the end of "Afterworld," the grandson of the protagonist takes his newly adopted Chinese sisters to play in the snow for the first time:
Every hour, Robert thinks, all over the globe, an infinite number of memories disappear, whole glowing atlases dragged into graves. But during that same hour children are moving about, surveying territory that seems to them entirely new. They push back the darkness; they scatter memories behind them like bread crumbs. The world is remade.
In the five days Robert will be home his sisters will learn to say "rocks," "heavy," and "snowman." They'll learn the different smells of snow and the slick feel of a plastic sled as their brother drags them down the driveway.
We return to the places we're from; we trample faded corners and pencil in new lines. "You've grown up so fast," Robert's mother tells him at breakfast, at dinner. "Look at you." But she's wrong, thinks Robert. You bury your childhood here and there. It waits for you, all your life, to come and dig it back up.