Mar. 5th, 2017

flexagon: (racing-turtle)
Just finished reading The Boys in the Boat, a gift from my biography-loving father-in-law about a 1936 rowing team. It's not my usual kind of thing, but turned out to be a nice read this long weekend as I lay around like a zombie trying to recover from work. I suppose my FiL thought the athleticism would interest me, as well as the childhood poverty and neglect faced by the most closely followed character, Joe Rantz.

As often happens with stories like this, I was sobered by (what appeared as) the sudden acceleration of time as the author flashed past the rest of the boys' post-Olympic lives in just a few pages. The 20th anniversary row, the 30th anniversary row... the 50th... and the deaths. It invites the obvious question: if anyone were to write my biography, what parts would get a gloss like that, and what would get the closeup? Thus far, the most statistically unusual part of my life has still been my childhood, a span of time I don't want to romanticize. Maybe I can beat that by doing something awesome when I'm old, or maybe I can escape the biographer altogether. (As some of you know, my dream is the anti-legacy... living contentedly, and, in the end, slipping away without leaving a void. Maybe it's possible, maybe it's not.)

It's funny but, sitting here thinking about it, some of what impressed and disturbed me about the book was the sheer detail it pulled from so long ago from interviews, newspapers, photos. I still have family photo albums of my own, stuff bequeathed to me by my mom after she finally divorced my dad... so sticky and family-saga-esque. I don't know for sure why I haven't shredded it all, but "just in case" and "waiting for more people in the pictures to die, so they can't be hurt" seem like the most plausible answers.

Note to self: biographies make you morbid! Knock it off and go to the gym.


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