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Re: James, I don't think that's true.

April 15, 2017 09:15AM
You hit on it in your reply. And I do not say this lightly.... I despise this about myself -

I do not remember novels the way most people do. I remember the emotions they brought out in me. I remember the physical act of reading them... often WHERE I read them. But the plots? Only rarely. Quotes? Almost never. When a book is brought up on this board, or in conversation, that I have read I nearly always need to have the person give me a synopsis, and usually more than a brief one, before it begins to 'come back'.

You ask if the "reel to reel played backwards" scene is in the novel. I don't know. I can't remember. And even though it's true that I read the novel only once and that back in the 70's... that's no excuse. Most people, and I say that literally, remember entire novels no matter how much time has passed by.

And we're talking "The Exorcist" here, a novel I loved. Bought it late one afternoon and finished right about dawn of the next day. True that I remember it somewhat well... compared to most books I've read... but it's the 'experience' of reading it that I recall well... particulars I remember very poorly.

With a few novels, books, I have remembered... remembered in the way most people remember books they've read that is... but the ratio of those I remember well to the number I have read is just sickeningly low.

Another good point you make... King, as I mentioned, has been brilliant. Granted. But some, most for me, are just terrible. I can't understand or rationalize that spread.... thus... gotta be me just 'missing it'.

The part in bold. I don't think most people can remember more than very short, select moments or images in a novel, if there is any gap in time between first reading and time discussing the novel. I also think most people are like you, in that they remember the emotional effects. Me? I had a much better memory for them when I was younger, but even then, I needed to be closer to the act of reading to really be able to discuss them fully. Now, it's, as you mention: where I read it, how I felt about it, etc.

Haven't actually researched this aspect, so I don't have the exact data (for readers in general). But just from my observations in school, out of school, working in bookstores, etc. etc. . . . most people can't. And I'm talking about book lovers, too. People who choose to take literature classes, or go on book-buying sprees.

As in, I think you're selling yourself short.

Of course, some books are much more memorable than others, and some books are so complex, they force us to reread. But, overall, I don't think humans have the memory stores for detailed descriptions of books long after the fact . . . though there are people who can do that. I went to college with a guy who could go beyond that, too. Not only could he remember whole books, he could watch a rehearsal for a play and then help everyone with their lines the next run through. That used to really tick me off. Made me look bad with the leading lady!

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