Here is a question that will keep you up at night: If you could choose only one memory from the entirety of your life to take with you into the after life, what would it be?
The question was posed, hauntingly, by the great Japanese filmmaker Hirokasu Kore-eda in his 1998 movie After Life, in which the recently deceased were assisted by a film crew in reenacting that memory so that it would live on for them for all eternity.
This issue of The Delacorte Review is about the stories we choose to remember. Stories the authors lived, and stories they were told that would come to exercise a powerful grip.
There are the happy memories of one day in 1955 and a baseball game so many who still remember it were sure would never happen. Then there is the memory of a 1947 murder kept alive by a writer who has spent twenty-five years trying to solve it. There is a story about a French village that for seventy-five years has kept alive the memory of the day of its liberation, even if so many of those who come to celebrate were not even alive when the Americans came.
There is the memory of a journey in Afghanistan when it was still possible for Americans to imagine they could build a new country. And then there is the memory of a visit home to Beirut, a journey taken in the hope that a revolution had not ended.
Memories can deceive. But that makes them no less powerful. They are about what we choose to remember, or cannot help but remember. They are also about myths, or what we assume to be myths – like the one about elephants, and how they never forget.
Turns out it’s true.
They remember. Like us.
Welcome to Issue #5: Memories.