On May Day, I always take a moment to read the piece below, written by Eduardo Galeano, whose writing intertwines in so many ways with memory, as I've discussed here . Long before I sat in a public history class, it was this piece that brought home to me how power constructs memorial narratives and made me wonder if reshaping memorial narratives might alter the architecture of power. I've become more cynical about that over time, but I still love this prose poem.
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Eduardo Galeano is, to my mind, the very best kind of writer. Defying categories, playing with media, voice and form, he is a journalist, novelist and poet. For me he is also, strangely enough, one of the clearest routes that brought me to public history. I found The Book of Embraces on the bookshelf at a friend's house almost 20 years ago. I asked if I could borrow it and he said it wasn't his cup of tea, "Keep it." Soon after, another friend saw it on my bookshelf and asked if he could borrow it. Off it went, just a few short weeks after it had arrived. I still have that copy. In it, my friend had inscribed: "I loved this book so much, I don't really want to part with it. Still, I don't want to hang onto it a second longer when you've not yet read it."