Unnoticed and Unannounced

December 27, 2013


I’ve been spending much of my time recently reading through a gigantic pile of books from the library.  I find wisdom and solace from other writers, and not infrequently writers seem to address questions I am pondering and issues in my life.

One of the better books I just finished was The Boy Detective:  A New York Childhood by Roger Rosenblatt, in which he spins a memoir as he wanders from about 14th to 42nd Streets in New York City.  I walked many of these same streets on my November trip, so this was a fun way to revisit vicariously.  Rosenblatt teaches writing, and he’s a good writer himself (so good that I will be looking up other of his books at the library).  And at one point he writes about the joys of living “unnoticed and unannounced,” which I imagine is something of a dilemma for a memoirist, and something I have been thinking about as the author of this website.  He says:

“I like living my life without telling anyone, as if whatever I did during the course of a day — get the car an oil change, shop for coconut ice cream, sit in Starbucks with my grande bold coffee and yellow legal pad — was between me and me and no one else.  I would not say that what I do is none of your business.  That’s not what I mean.  Everybody’s business is everybody’s business once in a while.  What I mean is that doing things like taking a walk in the city at night without telling anyone makes the thing being done a modest gift to myself.  We live most of our lives this way, do we not?  Unnoticed and unannounced.  And who would I tell anyway?  Do you really care if I buy coconut ice cream, or if one winter evening I leave my classroom and roam about New York in search of my inconsequential life?  Would you love me more or less if I told you?”

Well, I love Rosenblatt more for his telling of a few moments in his life.  His book brought me enjoyment and no doubt left him many other private moments, still not written about, as modest gifts to himself.  I can take this as a lesson for myself.

5 Responses to “Unnoticed and Unannounced”

  1. shoreacres Says:

    It occurs to me that Rosenblatt might be Facebook founder Mark Zuckerberg’s worst nightmare. The Facebook (and Twitter) empires have been built by convincing a substantial portion of the populace that the rest of the world is holding its breath, waiting to hear about that coconut ice cream.

    Beyond that, I wonder what Mr. Zuckerberg would make of the fact that I couldn’t remember his name as I was typing this, and had to resort to Google to find it? I’m not sure what I make of it, but I find it strangely comforting.

    • Rosemary Says:

      I’m holding out on Facebook, Twitter, etc. partially because I would not necessarily be interested in the purchase of coconut ice cream. But then, in the right hands, that purchase and that ice cream cone might be very interesting indeed. Who am I to say? I just wrote about doughnuts after all!!!

  2. Elisa Says:

    I like his writing book. I didn’t so much enjoy the one of which you speak, however I was busy in my head in other wishes and authors. I put it down to try again later. I like the quote. When I capture a thing or a moment, what am I trying to express, to keep, to firm up, to cement, what meaning then do I cement and firm? Will it mean the same when I encounter it later? what about others? I wonder at writers and artists who are just of nature good at this activity, at least from the perspective of those outside of them, who ‘risk’ losing their own reasons or expressions coming from their own answers to the above questions. When does nature become work instead? Why does the nature/work line cause issues for some more than others?

    • Rosemary Says:

      What is memory? It is inevitably shaped into a story by the narrator, and then the special emphasis, embellishments, points of view, twist that memory — for good or not — into a partial fiction. Do I remember an actual experience, or do I remember my story about that experience? What am I omitting?

  3. I’m with him. As shoreacres says above however, many want to tell everyone about the coconut ice cream and coffee shop. And everything in between.

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