Walter Biggins at The Quarterly Conversation:
Most of us don’t know much, even into our thirties and forties. In our teens, though, the ratio of what we don’t know vs. what we think we know hovers somewhere around 100 to 1. Adulthood is largely about closing that gap, doing so by learning how to think beyond our immediate experiences, and to empathize with unfamiliar people.
Part of what makes Guadalupe Nettel’s The Body Where I Was Born work so well is that, though it’s so autobiographical in nature that its protagonist has the same lazy eye that’s apparent in Nettel’s author photo, the Mexican writer treats herself as a stranger. Nettel’s life seems alien to herself as she tries to recall it accurately, and to convey it diligently to otherss. To a large degree, it’s a novel precisely about this alienness, and the emotional wooziness that can cause. The Body Where I Was Born is then a novel rooted in, but wary of, the memoir form.
That’s true to life. We’ve all looked back at our childhoods and wondered, “Who the hell wasthat guy?” Those of us who have gone through therapy realize how much we bury our past selves, and how those parts can claw back to the surface in discomforting, confusing ways. In order to see our past selves in our present lives, counseling helps us to see our thoughts and actions from the outside.