Memory and Story

On McSweeney’s, a touching piece by John Hodgman, delivered at a literary reading shortly after September 11, 2001. Definitely read the whole piece, but one part that particularly struck me:

“So if art cannot contain or describe this event, and if for now the suffering is too keen to be alleviated by parable… if stories are for the moment not as critically needed, as courage, as medicine, as blood, as bacon, they can at least revert to this social function. As time goes on, this will all pass away into memory, into a story with a beginning and a middle and finally an end. And that transition from the real into fable will bring its own kind of comfort and pain.”

It’s been twelve years since that day, and I like this idea of the transition to stories being needed. It’s hard to comprehend tragedy, especially in the moment, but as we move further and further away from the event itself, stories become more relevant. Memories become story and stay with us and transcend the individual. That means dealing with both the good and the bad, or “comfort and pain,” both of which are needed through the passing years.

Also, School Library Journal suggests resources for 9/11.

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