Monday, 9 March 2009

Book Review: The Story of Forgetting by Stefan Merrill Block

Abel Haggard, 70, all alone on his farm in Texas, lives on memories of the family he has lost. Once he lived there with his brother, who had Alzheimer's disease, his brother's wife and their daughter. But since they've been gone, he has steadily sold bits of his farmland to the developers who have built 'mansions' all around him, his house is now ramshackle and he is just waiting...........

Hundreds of miles away, 15 year old Seth Waller (who's ambition is to be a Scientist) lives with his mother and father. Over the years Seth has come to realise that his mother is not well but doesn't know what's wrong with her. After an incident at home it is decided that it is for the best if she goes into a home. So begins Seth's quest to find out more about his mothers condition.

Each chapter is narrated by either Abel or Seth and we learn more of their past and how they come to this point in their lives. At first we think they have nothing in common but as Seth begins his 'empirical investigation' to uncover the roots of the disease we realise they are inextricably linked.

They also share the knowledge of a mythical land called Isidora where no-one remembers anything, no-one has a name and all is peaceful and happy. In some ways this reminded me of Margaret Atwood's The Blind Assassin which has a story within a story.

I can't believe that this is Stefan Merrill Block's debut novel...........he writes with such experience and assuredness for one so young.

Favourite Lines From The Book ~ 'Theorists support the hypothesis that our success as a species is based as much, if not more, on our ability to forget more than on our ability to remember'

What I Liked About This Book ~ The way the words just seemed to flow along with ease. I liked the way the author delved back and forth in time so we slowly began to learn the secrets of each family.

What I Didn't Like About The Book ~ I could have done with less of the scientific diagnoses, I thought they went on for too long and were too difficult to comprehend.

Why Did I Read This Book ~ It was being discussed on the radio a few months ago and it sounded like a book that I could enjoy and learn something from. I had a relative with Alzheimer's Disease and so I was already interested in the subject matter.

Would I Recommend It ~ some parts it is quite heavy going, but at the heart of it is an interesting and heart warming tale, a story of loss and faith and of how the mind remembers what's important and forgets the unimportant.

Published by: Faber and Faber Limited
Pages: 310

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