MFA Alum Nicole McCarthy (MFA ’17) Interviewed in CRAFT
Chicago editor and book blogger, Leslie Lindsey, interviewed Nicole McCarthy (MFA ’17) about her book, A Summoning, diving into the intricacies of living in and writing about memory.
Leslie: I want to end with the crux of the entire book: life (including loss, love, and trauma) is encapsulated in this nebulous concept of memory. It’s at once fresh and tainted, blank and demented. There is a sense of mourning, but also hope. You end with leaving “deep invisible tracks.” What do you see as something we leave behind? Is it tangible—a house, a book, a photograph, or something more elusive?
Nicole: I honestly think we leave nothing behind. Yes, there are photos and videos, but how many people, outside our immediate family, will hold onto and cherish them? Without the memories attached to the objects, people have no reason to keep them. We have photographic evidence that’ll live forever online, but it’s detached; it becomes purely referential.
With memories that we build with others, it becomes a situation of scarcity. We store memories in others, moments that capture who we are and why we’re loved. You can be a conversation starter between two people who mutually know you, and the exchange of memories begins. But as we age and we start losing loved ones, we also lose memories. I was once talking to a friend who lost her husband over a decade ago. She had recently lost a very close friend of hers and she said, “She was the last person who knew my former husband. All those memories are gone.” Now she is the only one who has them in the catalogs of her memory. But I think there’s something so beautiful about that; our legacy is ephemeral.