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This winter, WNIJ continues to curate the best literature from northern Illinois and southern Wisconsin. Morning Edition host and Book Series editor Dan Klefstad invited five authors to our studios to discuss their fiction, poetry and memoirs.New for this series was a community read of the novel Snakewoman of Little Egypt by Robert Hellenga. WNIJ invited listeners to obtain a copy and on Nov. 16 they tweeted questions and comments to the author. We encourage you to follow WNIJ on Twitter (@wnijnews) and on Facebook and use #readwithWNIJ on both sites.The other books in our December series are: Troy, Unincorporated by Francesca Abbate; Cabin Fever by Tom Montgomery Fate; And Then She Kissed El Paco's Lips Now! Or April in DeKalb, by Ricardo Mario Amezquita; and Cloudbreak, California by Kelly Daniels.We hope you enjoy reading all the books in our Winter Series!

NIU Author's 'Obsession': What Makes Memories True?

Morning Edition Interview with Dan Klefstad (June 26, 2013)

Rock 'n roll author Joe Bonomo has written books about AC/DC, Jerry Lee Lewis and The Fleshtones. His latest book, however, is a collection of essays about his childhood in Wheaton, Maryland, a suburb of Washington, D.C.

This Must Be Where My Obsession With Infinity Began is not a traditional memoir, but it is about memory. In particular, it's about how one creates a personal narrative. "There is always a great tension," Bonomo says, "between what we might call calendar truth or historic truth, and narrative truth or personal truth."

Bonomo's book is featured in our 2013 Summer Book Series.

In an interview with WNIJ, he cites Lauren Slater's book Lying: A Metaphorical Memoir in which the author asks, "Why is what I feel less true than what is?" Bonomo similarly suggests that just because a memory is subverted by the calendar or a newspaper doesn't mean it's automatically drained of meaning or significance.

An NIU English professor, Bonomo likes to tell his creative writing students about the day his baby brother came home. "My father drove me to the hospital," he says, "and I remember my mom stepping out of the elevator. She had long red hair and she was holding my baby brother in swaddling clothes and all the sentimental cliches." Bonomo calls it a touchstone moment for him.

Years later, he shared the story with his parents who told him it didn't happen. "I was left in the care of my older siblings," he says. Bonomo thinks he may have dreamed the encounter or got the image from a photograph. "But the image is very important to me," he says. "It feels like a profound truth."

Bonomo points to the growing body of research showing how mutable our memories are. "As soon as we remember something," he says, "we don't recall it as-is from our memory bank. In fact," he smiles, "this conversation we're having now, in one minute I'll remember it slightly differently than you will."

(I reminded him that I recorded our conversation and he laughed: "That's true, you have the evidence. We'll meet up in ten years to see how our memories differ.")

But if our memories are imperfect, why are they so important?

According to Bonomo, the memories we create become stories that help us relate to others. "Because they tell us about ourselves," he says, "they create narratives about our past that we can use to plug into the larger fabric of the human condition."

Credit Dan Klefstad
Joe Bonomo in the WNIJ studios.

This Must Be Where My Obsession With Infinity Began is published by Orphan Press. The manuscript won the publisher's 2012 creative non-fiction prize.

Bonomo was also featured in WNIJ's 2012 Summer Book Series.

Joe Bonomo will join two other series authors -- Chris Fink and John Bradley -- for a reading and panel discussion at Books on First in Dixon, June 29th, from 3 to 5 p.m.

Joe Bonomo reads his chapter "Occasional Prayer."

Good morning, Early Riser! Since 1997 I've been waking WNIJ listeners with the latest news, weather, and program information with the goal of seamlessly weaving this content into NPR's Morning Edition.