Manual You Had Me at Good-bye: A Novel

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Goodbye, Vitamin is about memory: what gets recorded; what gets outsourced; and what happens when shared memories can no longer be shared. You asked me what flavor are germs. You were distressed because your pair of gloves had gone missing.

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When I asked you for a description, you said: They are sort of shaped like my hands. Fish oil. Vitamins D and C and A. Gingko Biloba. What more can be said for a book about remembering? Was she an inspiration for the book?

Goodbye, Vitamin

She for a while lived at home with my parents, so whenever I went home to see them, to see her, it was really hard to watch. It was more this obsession with memory that inspired the book, and then her situation was a terrible coincidence that happened at the same time and helped provide some really tragic details. Food and memory seem very linked for you.

  1. By Julie Christine Johnson.
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  6. Did keeping the food log work? I started keeping the log just as an experiment, because it felt like food was a thing that I had to encounter every day, a really regular thing that I could keep track of. Across the board, all my old diary entries are really emo and overwhelmingly about negative things. So I just wanted this objective log that would maybe cue memories for me.

    It would look like nothing to somebody else. Oh, she ate oatmeal. I found, I guess, that it did work. I was remembering a lot more than I might have otherwise. I could see this list and remember: I was with this person, I ate this, we talked about this. The habit of journal writing has always eluded me.

    It is kind of horrifying.

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    I actually started last year writing in this five-year diary. I was actually reading it out loud yesterday to my husband.

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    This book was years and years in the making. Can you tell me a little about the path to publishing it? I started writing, I think, in , a few years after I graduated from college. In college I was always writing short stories, and a lot of things in the third person. First person always felt kind of gross and crazy to me. I dread getting those questions about whether or not this was autobiographical. Then in I wrote a short story with Ruth, the narrator of the book.

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    It was a completely different situation. She had the same job, she lived in San Francisco, but it was about her dating an alcoholic fisherman. I really loved writing in her voice, and I just wanted to hang out longer with this person. At the same time, I was reading a lot of these short books by women who challenged what a novel was to me.

    They could be pretty short. They could have a lot of white space in them.

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    They could not necessarily be plot driven. They could take on whatever form I wanted. That could still count as a book. From San Francisco, where I live, it would have been an easy six hours south. Except for Linus gone, everything was the same. Christmas morning, Dad pulled out a small, worn, red notebook.

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    Inside there are letters to me. He showed me a page from this notebook:. Today you asked me where metal comes from. You asked me what flavor are germs. You were distressed because your pair of gloves had gone missing. When I asked you for a description, you said: they are sort of shaped like my hands. It comes as a surprise. Gingko, I think. The first things started approximately last year: Dad forgetting his wallet, forgetting faces, forgetting to turn the faucet off.

    The narrative, and its narrator, are in limbo, neither here nor there, neither now nor then, neither girl nor woman. Though the staccato structure of the narrative is ultra-contemporary, the plot is timeless: the coming-of-age story. By caring for her father and confronting his mortality and his problematic past, Ruth finally attains adulthood. At 30 years old, Ruth might seem a bit long in the tooth to be the protagonist in this kind of novel, but a combination of increased life expectancy and affluence has resulted in a new stage of American life that falls between adolescence and adulthood.

    Somebody should come up with a word for that. As her father recedes into a childlike puerility, Ruth gains maturity. When Ruth was a young girl, her father filled a notebook with her precocities:. Today, while I was trying to teach you to swim, you asked how deep the pool was.