Stefan Merrill Block's The Story of Forgetting is a surprisingly tight, well-paced, beautifully written first novel. At the heart of the novel is the premise that all life is born of combinations of memory and chance, which well-dramatized through different manifestations of a hereditary form of Alzheimers. In The Story of Forgetting, the stories of an old man, Abel, a young man, Seth, and the mythical land of Isadora illustrate, from different perspectives, both the blessings and curses of forgetting. I was quickly sucked into the worlds that Block portrays. The characters are heartbreakingly honest in their pain, isolation, and yet tenacious hold on their pursuits of—not happiness, per se, but survival in the face of random chance. Their biblical names allude to those who are left behind, those who persisted and survived, and who carried the weight of memory. The mythical land of Isadora provides a running counterpoint to what sometimes feels like the curse of memory: Isadora is a golden happy land, where there is no memory. It raises questions about common assumptions about those who suffer from Alzheimers: rather than seen as unfortunate victims, perhaps they have escaped the weight of memory.I had a particular interest in reading this novel, in that I currently have a loved one with Alzheimer's, and know the pain of being lost to someone while they still live. It was gratifying to see this pain utilized to tell beautiful stories.
I loved this! I've read the short story that inspired this, about a dutiful nephew trying to tell his aunt that she can no longer drive, but what a fun expansion! It has a true ring to it, and is quite a joy to read.
What a beautiful book! The three voices throughout and interwoven narratives were quite moving.I find it interesting that the film and the book were so different, and yet so true to each other and moving in their own way.
I'm becoming a fan of Connie Willis--her story "Even the Queen" is one of the few funny feminist stories I've ever read. This novel was particularly timely for me, in its sadly true depictions of Management's love of acronyms and nonsense phrases involving the word "facilitate". The confluence of chaos theory with the origin of trends was quite insightful.
I didn't like the macho posturing of the protagonist, and found his sexist perspective difficult to swallow. I did enjoy the descriptions of New Orleans neighborhoods; once one has lived there, one can't get enough of the local color. It does capture a certain post-war ennui, but in all, I really didn't enjoy it.