A THOUSAND WORDS - Alex Waterhouse-Hayward's blog on pictures, plants, politics and whatever else is on his mind.


Imperato Stabile - Romano-Lax & Siam Di Tella
Monday, November 24, 2008

Memory and its selectiveness has fascinated me for a long time. I cannot fathom how it is that I spent close to six months seeing my father every Sunday afternoon in Buenos Aires in 1965 before he died and yet I cannot remember any of our conversations. Perhaps the only proof that it all happened is a photo that I took of him with my Pentacon F camera. I do remember that I snapped it on a Buenos Aires street named Carabobo which I have always thought to be a funny name even though it was the name of the decisive battle that Simón Bolivar won against the Spanish in 1821 and gave Venezuela its independence. And I have a fond memory of the oddly named Siam Di Tella car that my father (far right, in picture, left) is leaning on.

Some 28 years ago I used to frequent Vancouver's Commodore Ballroom with Vancouver Magazine rock journalist Les Wiseman. There was a young man that Wiseman kept introducing me to who was always at the concerts. I would invariably forget the young man's name. One day I ran into him on the street and told him I would never forget his name again because I used the trick of associating his name with Scottish patriot Robert the Bruce. Unfortunately this never did work. When I would see him at the Commodore I would think, "Is his name Robert or Bruce?"

Bud I do pride myself for my good memory for historical facts, for botanical names, the names of books and their corresponding authors and my memory for rose smells is acute as I can discern variations within the myrrh scent varieties of English Roses. I don't say I am good with botanical Latin because a friend, Donald Hodgson a Latin teacher told me that botanical Latin has more of the Greek than of the latter. I have noticed that my botanical nomenclature in both Greek and Latin is good from Spring until late fall and then as the garden collapses and disappears my nomenclature fades, too. As soon as those plants begin to emerge in the spring their names are instantly retrieved from my memory banks!

Memory is much in my thoughts as I am reading Umberto Eco's The Mysterious Flame of Queen Loana . It is about a man who wakes up with selective memory. On Wednesday I was browsing at Chapters on Granville and Robson. One novel (a period novel) caught my eye because the author's name was in what looked like classic Latin. I looked at the author photo and found out she lived in Alaska. I was intrigued. I put the book back when my eye caught a large print edition of a Donna Leon, Commissario Guido Brunetti mystery and I instantly bought it as I have a few relatives with poor eyes. I forgot about the Alaskan author with the Latin name.

On Saturday night Rebecca and I went to see Twilight. When the credits were running in the end I was struck by a name. The unit manager of the film was Michelle Imperato Stabile. I dropped Rebecca off and as soon as I got home I punched the name into my computer but I found no mention of this woman being an author. Was my memory playing tricks? I tried different combinations of the name but found no novelist with a Latin name.

Today on my way to Van Arts I stopped at Chapters. I remembered exactly where the book had been and it was gone. I returned later and asked Nancy (she has a prodigious memory for the names of her book in the store) and we drew a blank. I told her that my only remaining solution was to stop at the other Chapters on Broadway and Granville and look there. Either I was crazy or the bookstore computer bank was in error.

In the other store I did not find Michelle Imperato Stabile. As I was about to leave I noticed a novel called The Spanish Bow. The author's name was Andromeda Romano-Lax. I looked for the author photo. Yes! She lives in Alaska. And yes, this time around I purchased the book.

The picture you see here of the author is taken by her husband Brian Lax. And of course my friend Donald Hodgson would have immediately pointed out that Andromeda was a Greek mythology name and that she was the daughter of Cepheus and Cassiopeia and wife of Perseus, who had rescued her from a sea monster.


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