Serving House: A Journal of Literary Arts
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235 words
SHJ Issue 3
Spring 2011

What We Choose to Remember
by Steve Heller

Reviewed by R. A. Rycraft

Serving House Books
(November 2009)

Cover photo of What We Choose to Remember by Steve Heller

In a world that seems filled with the willfully ignorant and depressingly unreflective, it is refreshing to read a collection of narrative essays that prompts readers to consider “how time and distance affect what we choose to remember and how we regard the life we’ve lived and the life that remains before us.” In reflection of the key moments where his past met his future, Heller offers a glimpse of the microcosm that shaped his life while simultaneously suggesting the macrocosm that shapes ours: the family legends of heartbreak, the adolescent sense of otherness, the inexplicable joys of parenthood tangled in the sad threads of a failing marriage, the particular type of loneliness and awareness comprehended only through the loss of a parent—the loss of two parents—the unearthing of self through the questions born of experience, the renewal of self through the discovery of a partner who is life mate and soul mate. Heller’s recollections are not so much a nostalgic journey into the past as they are a probing effort to confront and accept the evolution of his identity to the present—an effort many of us can relate to and take on for similar reasons. We read stories like Heller’s because ours, too, are “[stories] of escape, of good fortune, [of] neither endings nor beginnings.”

“...we have been born here to witness and celebrate. We wonder at our purpose for living. Our purpose
is to perceive the fantastic. Why have a universe if there is no audience?” — Ray Bradbury