We slouch under the weight of our memories… This is just one of the brilliant notions revealed by first-time author Stefan Merrill Block in his unique and monumental novel, The Story of Forgetting. I’m not going to play hide-the-ball, I’ll come right out and say that this novel (originally released in 2008) is one of the two best – along with Everything Matters! by Ron Currie, Jr. – that I’ve read this year.
Forgetting offers two stories melded together… The basic story concerns the impact on a family of a parent’s early-onset Alzheimer’s; a family which is, shall we say, a bit odd. “Abel… is an elderly hunchback who haunts the remnants of his family farm in the encroaching shadow of the Dallas suburbs.” And Seth may be a teenage near-genius who seeks to rapidly develop a cure for the dreaded disease that leads to forgetting – both mentally and physically – and death.
The other, imbedded, story is of a fantasy land named Isidora where people live near perfect lives in cities of gold. Amnesia Clubs are formed “to discover a way to forget.” In this imaginary and parallel universe memories are prison bars and forgetfullness is freedom. As with Everything Matters! it is virtually impossible to say anything more about the storyline without giving too much away… What is clear is that Block writes laser-focus fiction in the manner one of our very best writers, Joan Didion, writes of real things and real life. (What a gift.)
This book may shake-up your way of looking at the past and present in your own life. It is very much about the power of now: “To remember nothing. What more could one possibly ask of eternity?”
Recommended, recommended, recommended.
Review by Joseph Arellano. Note: This book was released in trade paperback form on April of 2009 (Random House).