January 11, 1997 Saturday
The last week I’ve been reading Flowers for Algernon by Daniel Keyes. It’s about a man named Charlie Gordon who is retarded. As such he is a test subject for an operation that will triple his intelligence. The book itself is set up in the form of Charlie’s own progress reports, that are dated and grow increasingly more complicated and introspective as time goes along. As his capabilities grow he beings to search for his purpose in life, and begins to recognize his true relationships around him. His painstaking quest for some sort of sense to it all becomes, in the end, an eerie obsession. Unfortunately, in the end, his situation begins to reverse itself, until he is as he was. Simple, but happier. As for Keye’s writing, it helps me see a character’s fascinating change over time, and a deep description of scenes that I will try harder to mirror in the future. It might be the best book I have ever read. It hits me somewhere new.
Hoke called tonight at about ten. We talked about the Hub. Holly Andrews will not be working because she is now in a Zellmer’s dinner play in Farmington, but Ainsely is still. She is right now. It has been such a long time … I can’t help but feel a little resentment for the nonchalant way Hoke is taking all this. Of course they have never been our best friends, but they also weren’t strangers. What have I said, about how much or little of things we remember? Maybe I’m remembering more because they are down in these pages. My own “progress reports,” I write with a laugh. Still, even for me, a mist has started to form. Time has begun to fade what has been. Hoke should be glad, really, that he doesn’t care for this kind of stuff. He never has, but that’s him. Yet, being myself, I’ve probably taken it too far, and now my mind stubbornly won’t let it go. Events converting to memories. People changing to shadows, voices to echoes. Remembrances crumbling to dream-like vagueness. The resulting images of haziness are all that remain.
I’m going to bed,
*From 2016: Flowers for Algernon continues to be a treasured book, twenty years later. I wrote a brief story for a later college class that incorporated the characters and style of the novel, called “Of Mice and Flowers.”