On its face I Remember is nothing more than a seemingly endless series of brief declarative statements starting with the simple words of the title. BuOn its face I Remember is nothing more than a seemingly endless series of brief declarative statements starting with the simple words of the title. But it becomes something much more than that. Brainard is so forthright, so perceptive, so directly simple and his memories so real, so particular that, as one reviewer put it, "his history coincides with ours."
There is no narrative in the sense of beginning-middle-end but the memories pile on top of each other such that you know Brainard and his story maybe better than if he had tried autobiography. You also know yourself better. His unflinching honesty and vulnerability sharing everything--the mundane, the inconsequential, the embarassing, the utterly private (homo-)sexual fantasies--gives you permission to dive fearlessly into your own memories.
Indeed, every time I read it there is in my mind a parallel series of my own memories rushing in. One night in bed, immediately after reading, I had what I can only describe as a lucid dream, walking through a childhood mall seeing tiny details that should be forgotten: the way the in and out doors of the Safeway never quite closed flush, the pebbly texture of the metal on the candy and toy dispensers, that particular piece of hardware used to connect 4x4 pillars to trapezoidal concrete pedestals.
The Afterword assures us that Brainard was a ruthless editor of his own work, and I don't doubt his diligence in re-working his material, but these memories come from a place where editors aren't welcome.
It would be easy to read this book and dismiss it as boring, indulgent, or ____fill in the blank_____, but if you do it means you have read it as a consumer. I Remember implores you to read it as a participant, as a person....more