Friday, January 05, 2024

Eight top novels about memory loss

Emily Schultz is the author of Sleeping With Friends and the forthcoming, Brooklyn Kills Me. She is the co-founder of Joyland Magazine. Her last novel, Little Threats, was named an Apple Books Best of 2020 pick. Her novel, The Blondes, was named a Best Book of 2015 by NPR and Kirkus. The Blondes was produced as a scripted podcast starring Madeline Zima (Twin Peaks), and created by Schultz and Brian J Davis. Translated into French, German, and Spanish it had over one million listeners worldwide.

At Electric Lit Schultz tagged eight novels that "begin with the idea that memory loss could be something more than the act of forgetting. Each of these books take a risk, and offer something original, strange, and fantastic." One title on the list:
Remainder by Tom McCarthy

If, like me, you were browsing bookstores every weekend in the late-aughts, no doubt you spotted this book featured it in your local Staff Picks section—and for good reason. Remainder may be equal parts fever dream and intellectual exercise, but there’s more to it than that.

A man is severely injured in a mysterious accident and receives an enormous sum in legal compensation. He has no idea what to do with it. He winds up having a moment of déjà vu, what could be a dream, or maybe an actual memory, and decides to entirely recreate it—right down to the cracks in the wall and the smell of liver frying in a pan down the hall. But this involves buying an apartment building, and hiring actors to live there, practicing for this one significant scene. There’s intense foreboding as he descends further into his obsession: trying to recreate something that may or may not have ever been real. (And yes, McCarthy’s novel came out before the film Synecdoche, New York.)
Read about another entry on the list.

Remainder is among Ali Millar's top ten books about starting afresh and Emily Temple's fifty best novels about madness.

The Page 69 Test: Remainder.

--Marshal Zeringue