Awhile back, I took a speed reading class where they taught me to follow my finger as it swept back and forth across the page, because I would absorb not only the words I was directly reading, but also the words surrounding them through my peripheral vision. That day was a failure, and I never attempted to do that again…that is…until I was trapped by the fangs of this book. Educated is at times so horrifying an experience, that I could not bring myself to slow down, instead finding myself just moving my eyes faster and taking in image after visceral image.
When I was done, I put it away, and waited. I wanted to give my brain a few days to turn things over. Sometimes a book can do that to you, you are in love with the immediacy of it, but upon recovery, discover that it has left a literary residue in your mouth that you like a little less.
After a few days, I wondered what do you say to people who don’t believe the author? I’m sure that had to be a fear. Credibility and truth are treated like unicorns these days. After a bit, I would say this: I can see why this book was impossible not to write. I can see how the author needed to make her past something solid and immutable, a book that, once published, could not be undone. If you look back at the elements of her past, you can see how everyone one in it was prone to shifting, betraying, and outright reconstructing: no, that never happened; I never said that; there was no knife; and so on. If your childhood memories are a blurred whir of shifts and changes, and you are the cast as the villain in your own life story (logically, that this is not possible, because if there is one thing that you absolutely cannot change, it is the past), you have to find an anchor. And if you have none, you have to build it for yourself, which is what she did.
The tone of the book, the way it casts the author, is as close to objective as you can come while talking about yourself While presenting herself, she offers herself through the lens of other people. This essay was good, because her professor told her so. Her roommate thought that she was a slob. The mostly painful accounts in this book, she reminds the reader, are verified by another. In doing so, she reminds us that her memory on its own is not enough. And thinking about that made something inside me crumble.