Other People's Countries- A Journey into Memory

Review :

Along with "The Complete Smoking Diaries" and "This Book Can Save Your Life", one of the best books read this year. About memory, though based on his Southern Belgium upbringing, universal in trying to figure out what memory is true, which remembered a certain way many times, has become the reality. Loads of quotable, thoughful stuff, but here four:

(About old shops in a village being converted into homes) "They've kept their huge windows but these are blocked off with thick lace curtains, through which you can still make out the blue of the TV screens and old people moving with the slowness of fish in an aquarium."

Some days I become a factory for sad thoughts: the night shift starts not when I go to bed, but when I decide to go to bed. As I turn the lights out, the factory lights come on. I used to make them by hand, the sad thoughts, but lately it's become more of an assembly line, the machines doing all the work: I sleep, and in the morning I have another consignment ready for distribution: for export, for import.

(Upon hearing from his mother of his grandfather's death, sitting at a payphone wearing brown corduroy pants at university in the UK): "My eyes were quite full, and I remember the corduroy lines getting larger as she spoke, magnified by tears that refused to fall."

As (Irishman) Beckett said, when asked if he was English: "Au contraire."

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