Special to The Windham Eagle
I vividly recall my 27th birthday. Or maybe it was my 28th or 29th, but whichever one it was, I remember it clearly.
My mother gave me a book that day, which was strange because back then presenting me with something to read was like giving a vegan a gift certificate to a steakhouse. I was a strident non-reader.
I wish I still had that paperback, which had a distinctive picture on its colorful cover: a different-looking fellow whose face was sideways. The oddly titled novel was written by someone named Winston Groom.
I don’t remember why I even opened that book; maybe I just didn’t want to hurt Mom’s feelings. But whatever the reason, once I started reading Forrest Gump, I couldn’t put it down. It was laugh-out-loud funny. And if you’ve seen the movie but haven’t read the novel, go get a copy NOW. The filmmakers left several key portions of the story out of the motion picture, including the part about the title character’s brief professional wrestling career, although to be fair it might have been tough to do justice to that on the big screen.
Winston Groom was a prolific author who wrote eight novels and also published more than a dozen works of nonfiction. I promised myself I’d make an effort to read more of his work, and I kept that vow. Every time I saw one of his books I bought it, and while none were quite the equal of Forrest Gump, they were all absolutely worth reading.
My positive experience with Mr. Groom’s writing was why I eagerly grabbed a copy of As Summers Die, one of his novels I saw while casually browsing at a Goodwill store. I dove right into it, and was instantly hooked, just as I was with his other books I’d read. But then at about page 150 or so the plot suddenly began seeming familiar. By page 200, I realized I had already read it. Getting more than halfway through it before I figured that out was a bit embarrassing, but at the time all I could do was laugh.
Not long thereafter I saw a postcard that I knew my friend Jim would really appreciate, so I bought it and mailed it to him. And I was right: he did get a huge kick out of it. In fact, he enjoyed it almost as much as he did the first time I had sent one to him. Apparently it had slipped my mind that I had sent the identical card to him the previous summer.
Last week I went to the library looking for a good book on tape, and finally settled on Later, a Stephen King novel that said “New” on the case. It was so new, in fact, that it had only been taken out twice previously.
At the start of a lengthy drive the next morning I put in disc number one, hoping to be enthralled. My first impression: the person reading the story sounded a lot like the guy who read the last Stephen King book on tape I listened to. Thirty seconds later I realized why: I was one of the two people who had previously borrowed the taped version of Later from the local library. At least this time I recognized it before the end of Chapter 1.
These increasingly frequent memory failures are beginning to concern me. Who knows what else I’ve done that I’ve already forgotten?
I vividly recall my 27th birthday. Or maybe it was my 28th or 29th, but whichever one it was, I remember it clearly. <