It's been well over a decade since I read John Cheever's "Falconer." While the details of the story have slipped from my mind, the emotional residue remains. It makes me remember where I was when I read it: San Francisco, 1994/5, lying in a loft next to a window overlooking San Francisco Bay. There was a bare bright light inches from my face. Cramped quarters, my former home.
I'm not sure what intrigued me about Cheever's book, but upon finding it in a common area of a hostel back then, I felt compelled to read it. And I did, all the way through. I couldn't shake the feeling of grayness, concrete and suffocation. It left an impact.
An article about Blake Bailey's new biography about Cheever on the New York Times' site made me remember that feeling as if I read the book yesterday. Some people are able to recall details of a story, but what I remember is residue. Sometimes I see it as a color or I'll "feel" the book's imprint energetically, even when I remember very little about the book itself.
It makes me question the importance of memory. If I ever had a brain injury, I would still carry the emotional residue of the books I've read. Maybe I wouldn't be able to recall reading them, but whatever impact it left on me would still be there.