Wednesday, January 21, 2015

Paradise, Remembered

"...Can you imagine? Tells me to shine shoes on Market Street outside the courthouse—that is a father's advice to a son."

"So what'd you do instead?"

"I'm a psychiatrist. It's your father I got my inspiration from. He was a physician."

"Not exactly. He wore a white coat but he was a chiropodist."

"Whenever I came with the guys to your house, your mother always put out a bowl of fruit and your father always said to me, 'What is your idea on this subject, Ira? What is your idea on that subject, Ira?' Peaches. Plums. Nectarines. Grapes. I never saw an apple in my house. My mother is ninety-seven. I got her in a home now. She sits there crying in a chair all day long but I honestly don't believe she's any more depressed than she was when I was a kid. I assume your father is dead."

"Yes. Yours?"

"Mine couldn't wait to die. Failure went to his head in a really big way."

Auguste Herbin

And still I had no idea who Ira was or what he was talking about, because, as much as I was remembering that day of all that had paradise remembered once happened, far more was so beyond recall that it might never have happened, regardless of how many Ira Posners stood face to face with me attesting otherwise. As best I could tell, when Ira was in my house being inspired by my father I could as well not have been born. I had run out of the power to remember even faintly my father's asking Ira what he thought while Ira was eating a piece of our fruit. It was one of those things that get torn out of you and thrust into oblivion just because they didn't matter enough. And yet what I had missed completely took root in Ira and changed his life.

-Philip Roth, American Pastoral 

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