Tony Earley

Satisfactory Essays
Memory and Imagination within Human Experience
Tony Earley delves into his own memories in his book, Somehow Form a Family. In the introduction, he instructs the reader on the purpose of narrative form, defines a personal essay, and reveals the true nature of creative nonfiction. In the ten essays that follow, he provides sketches of the events and people who shaped his life. Earley focuses on a different bit of common ground in each story, giving his readers everything they need to know within a relatively short span of pages.
The uses of discernable facts, such as actual places, names, past events and past conversations, add elements of authenticity to Earley’s writings. From the Blue Ridge Mountains to the name Bill Ledbetter, to the numerous shows he watched throughout his adolescence, Earley presents these facts to the reader in order to tether the woven script to a tangible source. He repeats these facts over and over within each story, reflecting again and again on personal memories. Memory and imagination, Earley states, “seem to me the same human property, known by different names.” Earley makes this important point as he reflects on the individual’s ability to perceive an event uniquely due to imagination.
Miracles are not uncommon within Earley’s vivid memories. The imagination prevalent within his work reflects his own willingness to accept the supernatural into his reality. Earley relishes in his memories, now infused with the essence of his own imagination:
The first time I attended the Episcopal Church in my hometown with a girlfriend, I was shocked by the complexity of the melodies the organist played, by the sheer, tuneful competence of the singing. Until then I don’t think I knew it was possible to worship God in cadences and keys actually indicated in a hymnal.
In the years since I left, Rock springs has added air-conditioning and a sound system and a fellowship hall, but has changed little in one important way: the congregation still sings out of green, dog-eared copies of the 1940 Broadman Hymnal. Though I heard the songs in the Broadman sung well only once a year, on Homecoming, the third Sunday in May, when the church overflowed with visitors and our musical shortcoming were hidden inside a joyful noise, they have always been the songs I love best. I would be hard-pressed to recall even a single sentence from the hundreds of sermons I heard growing up
Get Access